Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's a texting world

Like most people, I enjoy the convenience that advances in technology have provided for us in our everyday lives.

For example, microwave ovens greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to prepare a meal. Advancements regarding what personal computers can do definitely brings a lot of versatility to our lives.

Of course, cell phones may lead the pack when it comes to helping organize our lives. Our lives are hectic, and one unexpected event can cause our schedules to spin wildly out of control.

Twenty years ago, we would have been out of luck because contacting people on the run was quite inconvenient. Now, all we have to do is pull our cell phone out of our pocket and a quick call puts everything back on track.

Cell phones also provide other conveniences. Depending on the device a person owns, e-mail can be checked, the Internet can be surfed, and music can be downloaded. We have come a long way in only a couple of decades.

The number one accessory people use on cell phones is text messaging. Text messaging allows people to type out brief messages on their phone and sends them to the recipient.

Personally, I do not use text messaging that much. I only use it when I am absolutely sure the person I need to reach is unreachable by making a call. The primary reason I do this is because text messaging frustrates me. I tend to be too precise when I write so I can not make myself use the abbreviations and slang that many use when sending a text.

Maybe it is a generational thing because younger people do a lot better job than me when it comes to sending text messages fast.

The Nielsen company recently released the results of an eye-opening study that tracked the text messaging habits of people. Teens from age 13-17 now send 3,339 texts per month. Teen females send 4,050 texts per month while males send an average of 2,539.

These amounts tower over other age groups. For example, the 18-24 age group sends 1,630 messages a month.

Breaking down the totals for the teen group, these findings show that teens send approximately six text messages per waking hour.

That is a lot of messages. To paraphrase the actor Slim Pickens in the film Blazing Saddles: What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports is going on here?

I understand that text messaging is useful for young people to update their parents on what they are doing. Also, the novelty of the technology plays a role in why they text so much.

But more than 3,300 texts per month? It has been 30 years since I was a teen so maybe I am out of touch. However, I can not imagine why there would be a need to communicate so much with others.

Thank goodness the wireless companies provide unlimited text messaging packages. If they did not, I can only imagine how often teens would accumulate overages when it comes to their texting habits.

However, the teens reflect what is going on in our society as a whole. When it comes to cell phones and other data producing devices, it is easy for us all to be consumed by the technology.

For example, how many times have we ridden in an elevator and the people there had their faces buried in a phone? I have experienced that a lot.

So, instead of people making eye contact and saying a casual 'hello,' we ignore each other because we have to send a text message or e-mail at that particular moment.

The convenience of technology is nice, but the world is becoming that much more impersonal.