More on text messaging

So picking up on last week’s topic, what is so great about text messaging anyway?
If we compare texting with some more contemporary forms of communication, namely the telephone, there are a few differences that make texting much more appealing in some circumstances.
I don’t think families of the future will be texting back and forth on Christmas morning or anything (though I am sure there are a few that do). But for simple nitty-gritty communication, texting offers some definite benefits.
First of all, I should mention the more technical name for texting is Simple Messaging Service (SMS) and as the name suggests, it is meant to be simple. The service is based primarily on text messages that are intended to be short and concise.
There is no need or expectation to ask how things are going, or what’s new, or any other nicety before you ask the person on the other end if you can borrow their truck for the weekend.
Of course, I’m sure there are others who would argue this erodes the more substantive parts of human interaction and so on, but in a multi-tasking oriented society, any extra minute or two we can gain has a definite value for us.
Since I’ve brought up multi-tasking, another advantage (or disadvantage, depending on your perspective) of texting is that it allows users to engage in multiple conversations at once. You can quickly text one person while you are receiving a message from another, reply to them, and so on.
I have seen people try and carry on conversations on multiple phones at one time—and it definitely does happen quite as smoothly.
For corporations, texting services provide an opportunity to further increase the productivity of their staff by enabling them to carry on more threads of communication in a way similar to e-mail though in a more efficient manner. For the individual, texting is a tool to allow people to maintain larger and more complex networks of friends.
The big question, though, as the technology becomes more pervasive is, of course, is it all worth it? Do we really have more productive employees when we have them carry on 20 conversations at once, or are they just more strung out and stressed?
Do we perhaps take on more friends at the cost of more meaningful, substantial relationships?
I suppose these are the questions organizations, individuals, and families will have to ask themselves.
And, of course, the whole point of all this is to remind ourselves that the cellphone and all its associated gadgetry are just tools. They can help us find new ways to manage our personal and professional lives, or they can be just one more distraction serving to make things more complicated than they really need to be.
The more we know about these tools, their purpose, their advantages, and their disadvantages, the better we can integrate them into our lives in a way that has the most benefit for us.
Troy L’Hirondelle is a programmer and systems administrator at Times Web Design.

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