Call it a sign of the times. There are still young people who compete in old-fashioned contests like beauty pageants and spelling bees (despite criticism of the former for their emphasis on outward appearance, and efforts to simplify spelling so that such competitions would lose relevancy). But 250,000 young people (aged 14 to 21) competed recently for a $50,000 prize in the U.S. National Texting Championship.
Kate Moore certainly has skills that I can’t come close to matching. As best as I can remember, I have never sent a single text message on my cell phone (though I did receive one from my son this winter). I have recently started using its calendar and alarm functions (to compensate for my increasing tendency to forget appointments if I just rely on my memory), and I can type words almost as fast as some people can type on a traditional keyboard – people, that is, who don’t know how to type and have to hunt for every letter.
I most certainly cannot text with my eyes closed. (I can type reasonably well with my eyes closed, as that was how my sister made me practice so that I could touch type.) I have trouble walking on a treadmill at all (I love walking, I just can’t seem to match the treadmill’s speed to mine, or mine to its), let alone while texting, and I would be very annoyed at anyone who tossed foam blocks at me while I was doing it.
BTW, I do at least know a few of the abbreviations commonly used in texting, since they show up in email and blogs as well. (Though I always thought SOL meant something other than “sooner or later.”) IMO, before long some of these will become as commonly understood as ASAP and FYI, which have long been used in the business environment. And I learned TNSTAAFL a long time ago from a short story by Robert Heinlein.
OTOH On the other hand, I would certainly encourage my own sons to put more of their time and effort into practicing good communication in standard English, than in the arcane art of textspeak.