Tracy is a laughing at the 42-year old who keeps texting her for a date. Pick up the phone Lazy Ass!
So the Facebook Status update read, and I laughed out loud, [I did not LOL.] But it got me to thinking, what are the rules for communication in this increasingly intimate and, truth be told, often times invasive world? Is a text message an appropriate mechanism for something as personal as a date (as if I have a clue about dating – haha… I just choked on my salad right then) or is a call required? And where does email fit in?
As I do when I am faced with conundrums of this variety, I took it to the experts – my students. I asked them to tell me in their most persuasive way, what was the most appropriate method for communication.
And the verdict? After I explained that “It depends” would not be an acceptable answer, they actually had to choose the one that was most effective and appropriate the most of the time, I got some interesting feedback. In my non-scientific way and with rudimentary calculations I can say that 50% said the telephone (an actual call) was still the best. 33% went with email and 17% went with the now widely accepted (more outside the US, I think) sms or text message.
They had interesting reasons, noting that the phone call was the most immediate and direct line of communication. The email proponents suggested that it was a good way to self-edit when you might not be able to otherwise and that there was a record of the communication. (Good and bad, I suppose…) The texting fans liked the safety of it, silent, unobtrusive (read: SNEAKY, if you ask me) and instant communication with distance that the call did not afford.
I have to say, I barely knew how to send a text before I left the States and forget about predictive text. But everyone in Hong Kong was texting like mad all the time. All of my Euro friends and HK friends used it as the primary means of communication. At any given moment walking around Hong Kong I bet you can see at least a dozen people walking and texting (not too safe, btw.) Now I text as much as the next person and when I go home most of my friends find it odd. Like email there is some element of distance that lets you be a little more cheeky via the sms, but I wonder if that is good… or is it false advertising?
Short message services are developing very rapidly throughout the world. In 2000, just 17 billion SMS messages were sent; in 2001, the number was up to 250 billion, and 500 billion SMS messages in 2004. At an average cost of USD 0.10 per message, this generates revenues in excess of $50 billion for mobile telephone operators and represents close to 100 text messages for every person in the world.
SMS is particularly popular in Europe, Asia (excluding Japan), Australia and New Zealand. Popularity has grown to a sufficient extent that the term texting (used as a verb meaning the act of mobile phone users sending short messages back and forth) has entered the common lexicon.
In China, SMS is very popular, and has brought service providers significant profit (18 billion short messages were sent in 2001). It is a very influential and powerful tool in the Philippines, where the average user sends 10-12 text messages a day. The Philippines alone sends on the average 400 million text messages a day or approximately 142 billion text messages sent a year, more than the annual average SMS volume of the countries in Europe, and even China and India. SMS is hugely popular in India, where youngsters often exchange lots of text messages, and companies provide alerts, infotainment, news, cricket scores update, railway/airline booking, mobile billing, and banking services on SMS.
Text messaging has become so popular that advertising agencies and advertisers are now jumping into the text message business. Services that provide bulk text message sending are also becoming a popular way for clubs, associations, and advertisers to quickly reach a group of opt-in subscribers. This advertising has proven to be extremely effective, but some insiders worry that advertisers may abuse the power of mobile marketing and it will someday be considered spam.
So I am not sure about how I feel about the whole thing, are you hiding behind some weird facade if you rely on the text? Is email impersonal, or is it actually more balanced and fair? I don’t know- but I think I might make a call and find out.