According to Experian, U.S. smartphone owners aged 18 to 24 send 2,022 texts per month on average — 67 texts on a daily basis — and receive another 1,831. That’s nearly double their slightly older peers, smartphone users aged 25 to 34. That corroborates a Pew study from last year, which found that the median number of texts sent by teens was 60 per day. Read more at Business Insider.
You don’t need these stats to see the impact texting is having on us as a society. All you really need to do is look around. People are walking into things. Neglecting their kids. Not watching the road. And on and on.
But I’ve Ben thinking about something far more simple – and far more damaging over the long-term: The effect texting will have on our ability to communicate.
Think about how you interact with people through text. You don’t use complete sentences. You don’t check grammar or spelling (hey, autocorrect was invented for a reason). You send weird pictures at weird times. And in some cases, if someone who’s never seen a text were to look at your phone, it would make no sense at all.
My favorite are the repeat texts because one thing was wrong. For example: What time are you coming home tonight! (I hit the exclamation mark a lot, instead of the question mark.) So I’ll resend it: What time are you coming home tonight?
Did I really need to do that? Will my wife not understand what I’m trying to say? No. But without the correction I’m subtly changing the way I communicate. The context of the sentence trumps the need for correct grammar. And that’s good enough when texting. However, will good enough translate well into, say, the classroom? An email or even a text to a client? Do I really need to capitalize the first letter of your name?
I decided to do an experiment here at AKHIA and asked those who were interested to send me the last five text messages between them and their spouse, significant other, best friend, roommate, mom, etc. I just wanted to read these texts out of context and see how we now rely on microbursts of communication.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Texts with family, mainly your mom, are incredibly random.
So here’s where texting might actually be doing some good. Would you ever call your mom out of the blue with random thoughts? And more importantly would your mom ever say things like this to you in the middle of the day:
“Just bought a Kim Kardashian dress for your sister’s wedding. Only $25!”
(From Jodee Juarez)
Or, would you ever be able to have conversations like this with your mom?
(From Jess Forrester)
2. Babies rule. Obligatory baby shot (we’ve all done it).
From Kate Eidam
3. Roommates are the best. I think this is a little skewed, mainly because most of the time you’re rooming with people who are very good friends (if not your best friend) and actually get the language you’re speaking. Here, see for yourself:
From Nicole Adduci, to her roommate:
1. Heading out to frolic
2. You’re fancy… just like Iggy
3. You would cook for him, but not your best friend? I want eggplant.
4. Feed Gino and Princeton when you get home then take them both outside to potty!
5. Yoga, run, or (skip) all of the above?
Some of those make sense to me, but I’m sure all made sense to Nicole’s roommate. Same with these:
From Nicole Batchelor, to her roommate:
4. Spouses are the worst. You know, I’m starting to think text messaging was created solely for spouses to check-in/check-up/nag each other. It’s now how most of us receive our orders. Here, for example look at what my wife texts me:
1. Get bologna, lunchmeat
2. And Borden or Kraft string cheese.
3. We need juice.
5. Did u hear from Ryan?
Four grocery items and a reminder to call the landscaper. Speaking of landscaping:
From Celeste Conklin, to her husband
In today’s fast-paced world you would think we’d want to talk to our spouses more often, right? But not when there are things to do. When there are orders to be given it’s texting to the rescue.
From Mike Lawrence, to his wife
Even newlyweds fall prey to this trap:
From Amber, to her husband
1. Did you take my spaghetti for lunch
3. I like how Sami does my hair
4. Did you take the dentist papers
5. They are open until 5
But despite this, when talking to your spouse, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses:
From Lukas Treu, to his wife
Regardless of who and what you text, it’s clear that the act of texting has and will continue to impact how we communicate with each other. This will be interesting to keep an eye on as our kids grow up using this type of language and communication as the norm.
Thanks to all the AKHIA folks who helped out. This was a fun piece to write (I hope you have fun reading it).