In 2011, phones vibrated or dinged with over 8 trillion text messages. Most of those texts were from teens. According to a study by Pew, teens send an average of 3,200 texts per month – which is double the number of text messages exchanged by people old enough to rent a car and, not surprisingly, 23 times the number of text messages sent by those 65 and older.
Communicating in short, sometimes cryptic messages, isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, though. Remember passing notes in the hallway? Or sending messages through friends? Technology has evolved, but teens, it seems, talk just as much as they did decades ago.
Perhaps that’s why this quote from Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved sparked so much inspired writing from our teen group at the Fort Greene Park Summer Youth Writing Workshops:
“Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.”
The teens wrote about words exchanged between friends and they wrote about how “questions float in the empty silence.” Inspired by Toni Morrison’s “sweet, crazy conversations,” we’re proud to feature two pieces of work from our Fort Greene Park teen writers Deborah Olagunju and Iniko Thornell.
“Untitled” by Deborah Olagunju
Yeah, remembering the late outdoor conversations that we used to have, sneaking out the house for only five to ten minutes without making a sound so that I would wake a soul. The exuberant feeling of just knowing that you belong to someone in this big whole world. The short talks in the house and having to say I’ll call you back every five minutes because I was afraid I might get caught by daddy. But him not getting annoyed or frustrated by the silence of the phone on the other end. And when he calls me the exact same time I’m thinking of him, makes a smile in a way that I’ve never smiled before.
“A Lasting September” by Iniko Thornell
a small sound comes from my phone. I click the home button to see the screen flash on a little notification pop into the center of the screen.
Eliza, the screen reads
+ suddenly our conversation unfolds
the back + forth of grey + green
me + her
our conversation so broken + uncomprehensible
especially to adult eyes
the “lols” + “omgs”
only mask and hide the true meanings
to our words
about how we’ve missed each other
over the summer + how we’re sad
to see another friend not returning
next September. How I hope she
doesn’t become someone else. How
I hope our broken hilarious texts
never mend themselves
because then the connection will
cease to spark
+ sentences will turn to words
until nothing but month old
+ our other friends become
more important + on that
day when we forget how to
speak to each other + the phone
doesn’t make a sound will be the day I thought would never come.
Photo courtesy of ktylerconk.