I was at a conference last week and had a short discussion about cellphone texting with a colleague. Basically he did not understand why people text instead of call. He felt that we were going back in time rather than forward. I thought about it for a bit and somewhat agreed with him. If you’re like me, I text in the most non-English way (e.g., “omg”, “c u l8r”, etc). Have we gone back to a hybrid of morse code and telegraph way of communicating? Maybe. Unlike the good ole days, cell phone texting does not require a dedicated “telegraph” line, so you can just text anyone from anywhere. Okay, so maybe that’s a step forward. Alright, now why use texting over calling?
Well, I think of texting like post-its. I’m just leaving a short note for someone which does not warrant a full on discussion. To me that’s enough of a benefit. Also, I see texting as a very social interaction. I text you “let’s go to dinner”, you text back “where”, I text you back “japanese?”, etc etc. Another thing that texting lends well to is multi-tasking. You’re sitting in a meeting hearing “blah blah blah blah” and flip open your cellphone to text or read texts from others. You may be ignoring the speaker now, but at least you are discretely ignoring him.
In any case, I am still perplexed as to why an inferior way of communicating (e.g., short messages with hacked-up words) is starting to dominate. Think of Asia, texting is huge there. Why? I don’t know, I haven’t done my research.