Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

4 reasons text messages are killing our communication

Twenty years ago today, the first text message was sent. My, how the 160-character Short Message Service (SMS) has rocked our communication.

Yes, there is a convenience to being able to access your peeps in a flash. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sent or received texts in the grocery store about items missing from the shopping list. Very important.

But communicators and parents alike know that the art and science of texting is impacting our social and education systems in ways that could never have been imagined.

Think about these four reasons text messages are killing our communication:

1. Reduce the need for in-depth conversations. Have you texted people as a form of avoidance? A few abbreviated words keep people from meaningful dialogues and face-to-face communication. This also diminishes the importance of body language in our communication. :((

2. Dumb down spelling and grammar. ‘Txtspk’ leads to deficiencies in basic language skills. Shortcuts with spelling, punctuation, and emoticons aren’t helping children and teenagers learn the necessary writing and communication skills they need for college and the workforce. Are these convenient shortcuts, acronyms, and abbreviations giving way to generations of lazy and sloppy communicators? (Gr8)

3. Distract us from being fully present. Earlier this year, the industry association representing wireless communications (CTIA) reported that more than 184 billion text messages were sent a month in the U.S. These messages interrupt our brain functions and attention. Texting pulls our focus away from the people and tasks we are experiencing at the moment, depriving us of being completely present in our lives. (IRL=In Real Life)

4. Invite ambiguity. Joel Willans writes on Nokia.com: “The format of 160 characters was determined in 1993 by a communications researcher, Friedham Hillebrand. While trying to standardize the technology that would allow cell phones to transmit and display messages, he discovered that the average sentence or question needed just 160 characters.” This leaves too many opportunities to mistakenly read between the lines. (SWYP=So What’s Your Problem)

Thx 4 readng. Comment b-low.

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Comments

  1. Thought-provoking post. Thanks, Sue. Text messaging, like all other media, should be just one of many tools in the communication toolbox. I don’t see #1 and #4 as real problems, but then I’m f-uh-mumble years old and I’d never text a serious conversation. Maybe I’m just an old coot.

    #3 is something I’ve observed many times, and it’s a huge problem. But it’s not just texting. It’s games and web surfing and pretty much anything else that smartphones do.

    #2 isn’t as big a problem as Autocorrect, which if it weren’t so hilarious would have us all taking to the streets with pitchforks.

    Whether text messaging is killing our communication – as you can tell I’m not fully convinced – you have to give it this: In the first few days after Hurricane Sandy when there were no landlines, no reliable voice service, and no Internet, I was so glad to get texts from my brothers in N.J. assuring me that they, and our mom, were all right. In those few days, I didn’t think that text messages were killing anything. Quite the contrary.

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