Why I'm a Fan of Texting
My daughter-in-law, a fabulous, lovely, very intelligent young woman in her twenties, does not text and doesn’t hesitate to let others know that she doesn't. I’m now sixty, I think texting is terrific, and I use it often. Clearly, the appreciation of text messaging does not always fall along generational lines. A more realistic reason why some of us like texting (and others do not) probably has to do with the experiences we have had with it. So, for the enlightenment of all, to explain why I am a very big fan of communication via texting, I will share a few of my experiences.
The Value of Privacy
(1) I like to text because it is quiet and private.
My first really great experience with texting happened when I was staying with my mother, who was in the hospital at the time. Part of my job was to send updates to my three siblings, scattered around the country.
It was so easy to send them text messages while Mother was resting, without bothering her at all by talking out loud, even providing details that I would not have wanted her to overhear. Sometimes I would simply text “Please call ASAP,” and then we could actually talk – at a time they chose, at their own convenience.
Simple and Easy
(2) I like to text because it is easier to check messages than with voicemail.
Through experiences, I have learned that in town, when I am stopped at a traffic light, I can flip open my cell phone and check an incoming message with the greatest of ease. [Please note, though, that in some cities, this would be illegal. Be sure you know the laws wherever you drive!] If it is something that I believe requires a prompt response, I pull into a parking lot, key in my text and send.
Picture the process of retrieving a voicemail message. You select the number of the service (if necessary), push Send, hold the phone up to your ear, possibly key in your password, then wait while the voicemail service plays through old messages, messages that are ready to be deleted, messages that were skipped – you get the picture. After each of these, the voice says, “Message deleted,” or “Message will be saved for ____ days,” while all you are thinking of is rushing to get to the new message. Then, if you don’t hear it clearly, you have to have it repeated.
How about retrieving a text message? If it’s not already onscreen or accessed with one push of the OK button, which it normally will be if it is a new message, it is very quick to select Messages, Inbox, and the newest message. Since it is already onscreen, it is very simple to review it a second time, if there is a reason for doing so.
Powerful, Energizing Connections
(3) I like to text because it requires less power than talking on the cell phone does.
When my mother returned to her assisted living facility, we siblings had a problem with talking to one another, even when they called me at good times. For whatever the reason, cell phone activity is difficult where Mother lives. Calls don’t go through, they get cut off, or they are staticky. But there is no problem at all with sending a text message there. My son, the tech-guru, explained that it actually does require less signal to send and receive text messages than voice messages, so it may be possible to send a text when voice contact won’t work.
(4) I like to text because it keeps me connected to the younger generation.
When my youngest son was still in high school, his preferred method of contacting me was to text. That became our mode of communication, and it still is.
Sometimes his message was simply, "Hey, I think my bus just passed your car leaving our subdivision!" but sometimes it was more important, such as his needing to arrange transportation for an after-school event.
I still really get a charge out of using "their" technology and methods to keep up with young people. Besides simply working well, it feels to me like an important validation of people that I know and love.
Not Necessarily Intrusive
(5) I like to text because it can be done quickly with little interruption of anything else.
Recently I joined an online discussion (more like an argument, really) about the etiquette of texting at the same time as participating in a face-to-face conversation with someone else. So many thoughts and conflicting ideas and opinions were expressed, some very heatedly. Nearly everyone in the conversation did agree that it is important to find ways to do this politely, if it is done at all.
But the best argument that I read was from a mother who uses texting as a way to keep track of where her children are and where they are going. She described three methods of a child checking in with her for the exact same purpose in each case: one in person, one by phone, and one by text. She wrote out the script of what each person would say or write, and how long the check-in would take. The hands-down winner was texting, taking only about 5 seconds.
Her support of kids checking in with moms via text message is not in the same category as the inattentive texter who uses texting as a way to avoid the here-and-now, or the person who would rather keep tabs with a friend who is not present than with the one who is. There are many situations when texting is absolutely not appropriate and should be declined in favor of something else more important. But in the situations when it is appropriate, it is a fantastic tool of communication. I would have a hard time managing without it.
A Tip for the Uninitiated
Someone who doesn't text often may not know the advantages and disadvantages of using the "predictive" mode (sometimes called Word entry). The primary advantage is that it is quicker and requires less button-pushing (probably extending the life of some components). But there is also a disadvantage.
In this mode, the texter keys in letters on the number pad, using only one push per letter. Since each digit (2-9) shows three or four letters, the electronic memory in the phone has to guess which of the three letters they mean. With each new digit pushed, the screen display will show the "best guess" for the word, based on the vocabulary stored in memory.
Often some combinations of digits can create several different words, and so it it important to check the result before sending. For example, the same combination of digits can produce: me --- of; good --- home; fine --- find; saw --- say; in --- go; boy --- any; there --- these; cast --- cart; movable --- notable; gold --- hold --- hole --- golf. (Some crossword puzzle books offer a puzzle that uses digits on a phone dial to represent letters; part of the challenge is to determine which of the words is meant by each combination of digits.)
On my phone, it's easy to change from one of these words to another, once you know how - but you have to spot the error first!