Vicki Wentz: Don’t miss out on life by catching texts

Apr. 04, 2013 @ 09:12 PM

Aahhh, April. Springtime is here.

Trees are budding, flowers are popping up, birds are singing, and the grass is greening. It should be a time of happy beginnings, sweet expectations and the bracing realization that there are only nine weeks left till WE have to wear bathing suits!

And, if we don’t get to the gym in 15 minutes or sooner, we will be forced to wear jeans to the beach again, telling people we have horrific sun allergies.

So, I’m driving through campus today on my way to the gym. (Normally, we middle-agers drive through campus only when we’re tempted to do something physically strenuous or athletically challenging, like lawn-mowing or loading the dishwasher, and must remind ourselves how incredibly old and decrepit we are. Ten minutes of watching those kids leap and run and cartwheel across the quad, and just like that we’re safely back on our couches, clutching the remote and a cold Miller Lite, trembling at how close we came to actually attempting to lift a weight.)

However, this drive through campus was unintentional, resulting from a wrong turn on my way to Snap Fitness because of not having been there in ... well ... a while, and of course, resulting in the cancellation of my workout, since I was obviously going the wrong way. (Is it not abundantly clear that fate does not want me to exercise?) But, as I drove slowly up the road, past the pool and athletic fields and the student union, observing our next generation as they trudged to their classes, I did not see one student leaping, running or cartwheeling. Instead, almost every child was either hunched over a cell phone texting, or had one to his ear chatting away, nimbly avoiding lampposts, fire hydrants and open manholes, passing each other without even a glance.

When I recently condemned the use - or even possession - of a cell phone in high school, the kids were truly astounded. One says he works, and needs to call for his schedule. Another must have it because she plays soccer and has to call her parents to pick her up. A third needs hers so she can “like make plans with friends and stuff.” Huh. Evidently, when we were 15, no one ever knew what hours we worked, or made plans with friends, or had a ride home after practice. Who knew?

“Oh, Vicki,” you say (and it’s okay that you call me Vicki, although from students I prefer “Your Highness”), “This is 2013, a new techno-world of instant communication and immediate gratification!”

(Now, I’m no stranger to instant gratification. I’ve raised children and taught school for approximately 26 years. I know that if kids don’t get what they want when they want it, you are a hideous failure of a mother, and quite possibly the devil’s own daughter. This, of course, didn’t stop me from non-compliance, even though my children would inevitably DIE without whatever it was. It was simply amazing luck that they survived me.)

But, I believe instant communication leads to CONSTANT communication, and is that not the most exhausting thing you can imagine? (Okay, the most exhausting thing I can imagine is hauling a typical high school backpack more than four feet, but being in constant communication with ANYONE runs a close second.)

Plus, look what these kids are missing as they stroll along a street, all their focus on inconsequential blah-blah from someone probably strolling down the very next street! Instead of having a phone plastered to your ear every second you’re awake, why not walk this lovely campus with your eyes and ears wide open, and really see it for what it is – the place where you could meet Roy Williams!

No, no, it’s more than that. It’s your home for four years – or however many years you choose to put your parents and their bank accounts through. It’s the place where you’ll most likely vote for the first time, and have your first alcoholic drink ... or, heaven forbid, have your first alcoholic drink and THEN vote for the first time!

It’s a sweet, protective cocoon, where you will meet and make lifelong friends who will one day be in your wedding, and you will make them wear grotesque lime-green chiffon so that people will only be looking at you … not that I ever did that.

So, leave the phone in your dorm (gasp!) and meet after class at Ben and Jerry’s. Sit out front with an ice-cream cone, and watch the world – and possibly Roy Williams – go by. It’s way better than letting the world watch YOU go by.

(You know, the Tar Heels are back in town now … think I’ll just make one more circle around the quad, and then I’ll go to the gym ... seriously.)


Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at, or visit her website,