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To text, or not to text: that is the question.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Shakespeare wrote sonnets in iambic pentameter.

Did u know ur def like summer?
Ur so cool and I ly4e.

We write text messages in two-letter slangameter.

This week on Spark, Nora Young recaps a texting experiment they did with Al Rae (artistic director of the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival). In response to a New York Times article that reported some unbelievable statistics about teen texting, Spark challenged Rae to start texting as much as the average teenager. Neilson Company reports that at the end of 2008, American teens were sending an average of 2,272 texts a month. That means almost 80 texts a day. 80!

Rae stepped up to the challenge. After a few texting lessons from his daughter he attempted to become just another regular text message maniac. After a few weeks of non-stop texting, Rae didn’t quite reach an average of 80 per day; however, he did come away with an interesting perspective on text messaging. Rae said that after a few days of texting he felt a strange disassociation with the world around him. Rather than spending time fully interacting with other people, he was “subtitling and paraphrasing” his life, and publishing “a glib version” of himself.

A few Spark listeners/readers sent in their own experiences with teenage texting:
-One parent found her two children texting each other about the meal while sitting together at the dinner table.
-One high school student was sending 2000 texts a month and a significant portion of those were sent between 1am and 3am.
-A parent received a phone bill for over $500 accumulated during less than a month of texting by her teenage son. He was averaging 200 texts a day.

I’ve been a little slow getting into the world of text messaging. Right now, I’ve got 100 free texts a month and that is usually more than enough for me. When I think about teenagers who send 80 texts a day, only one thing comes to mind: communication overload. Is there such thing as TOO much communication? Too much connectivity? I think that text messaging is redefining our boundaries of availability and our standards of communication. We’re expanding quantity and downsizing quality. It’s a 24/7 world and it’s getting hard to separate ourselves from the technology we’ve created.

Texting isn’t just a teenage trend, but some of the effects on teenagers are a little startling. According to this article, physicians and psychologists have said that excessive texting is leading to “anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation.” Instead of going to sleep or even finding a few minutes of peace and quiet at the end of the day, teenagers are interrupted by a beep, ring or vibration that is calling for an immediate response. And many times, where you find a teenager thumbing away on an unlimited texting plan, you can also find a parent leaning face first into a BlackBerry. I could write a lot more about this article and the effects of text messaging on teenagers, adults and families, but instead I’ll recommend that you read the article and leave you to think it over.

To text or not to text? That is the question.

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June 21, 2009 - Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , ,

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