Monday, March 03, 2008

the texting debate.

i thought for everyone's benefit it might be best to break down the rational and irrational aspects of text messaging. i'm on the more extremist end of the anti-text-messaging scale, but i will admit it has its uses. so let's explore them, shall we?

i like to measure the reasonability of something using effectiveness and efficiency to gauge how useful it is.

the cell phone (whatever your personal opinion on them happens to be) is one of the most wildly efficient, effective personal devices in history. it has two great virtues: portability and instantaneousness. instantly being able to communicate with another person through the most immediate medium: vocally. and since they are so portable, this instant communication is always possible (feasible anyway, not accounting for your personal circumstances/appropriateness of place and time)

when text-messaging is rational: leaving a person post-it note sorts of messages like, "i won't be home on time. expect me at 11pm" or "meet me at (address) instead". assuming none of these spur confusion or more conversation, they are very effective and very efficient. unlike leaving a voice message, a person can view the information visually - no re-playing messages so you can make out/write down addresses, phone numbers, etc. and unless their battery dies, they're sure to get it wherever they are, and not wait to retrieve it from some other message receptacle. super useful.

when text-messaging is irrational: whole conversations. text-messaging more than two exchanges on a phone is a major backwards step from possible efficiency. as text-messaging takes a considerable amount of time to accomplish, it takes away from the instantaneousness of a phone's communication potential. much less efficient.

other concerns:

we all take our liberties with everyday use of language, but the volume and speed with which text jargon is spreading, infiltrating our language even outside its "appropriate" venue... is alarming. and i don't say this from a point of english puritanism, i say this understanding the long, traceable history of the language (for communication's sake) can't compare with fleeting word trends, humorous amalgamations, contemporary references and language corner-cutting, which don't have the stability of the good ol' king's english. it's the same difference as evolution of one animal a million years ago into its contemporary, and a three-eye frog popping out of a lake, suddenly, due to toxic exposure. you can comfort yourself in knowing you punctuate and take the time to use perfect grammar, but this is only a drop in the bucket if you are receiving/acknowledging text messages from people who don't. either cut it out, or make it clear to people they better clean up their grammar or not bother with texting you at all.

IM vs. Text-Messaging
now one of the arguments presented by my recently converted roommate: it is just like instant messaging over computers.

which seems like a fair comparison, but all in all doesn't hold water. voice-to-voice communication is not the primary use of a computer. in order for a computer to transmit sound instantly there needs to be added features: microphones, voice chat applications and compatibility between two people's software/OS... the technology is still a bother, which you'll understand if you're like me and have ever attempted to voice chat from your mac to a pc. with the hassle of voice chat on the computer, compatibility bugs and the mere fact if you're on a computer you've likely got other things going on besides chatting, IM programs still take the lead in reasonable communication on computers. because of screen size, IM organizational features (convenient tabs, etc) and the ability to reach a higher wpm count on standard keyboards, the IM gets my star of approval in efficiency, effectiveness and overall usefulness. it demonstrates the full usefulness of the computer, whereas text-messaging is a drawback.

which isn't to say people shouldn't do anything irrational. i personally think it's gay, but is only so much worse than dancing. i mean, this is assuming our language doesn't break down...


Blogger Sean said...


1:13 PM  

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