Technology has indeed proven its powerful and still growing innovation in the existence of one of the world's most accessible communication tool, text messaging. It is with no doubt that communication nowadays is almost as easily achievable and quick as telepathy. With the tips of your fingers, you can already communicate your messages to friends and loved-ones despite the threatening barriers of distance.
Linda W. Braun, the author of "Teens, Technology and Literacy: Or, Why Grammar Isn't Always Bad", defines text messaging as, "Sometimes known as texting, text messaging refers to sending short text-based messages from cellphone to cellphone. SMS (short message system) is another form of texting that makes it possible for messages to go from phone to computer or computer to phone" (Braun 17).
There are mixed evaluations from linguists and psychologists around the world with regards to the increasing popularity of using text messaging as a medium of communication. Most linguists criticize the way "text lingo" or the use of shorthand and acronyms because of the reduction in proper communication. According to a study conducted by Upoc (Universal point of contact) in 2001, "43% of cellular phone users ages 12 to 17 used text messaging, compared with 25% of those 30 to 34" (USA Today). They claim that discarding the idea of grammar and spelling is putting the youth's writing skills in jeopardy especially today when most of SMS users are teenagers who have yet to learn grammar and linguistic rules.
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Furthermore, according to a psychological research conducted in Finland, a number of teenage relationships began in text messaging. A researcher asked a Finnish boy why he and her girlfriend never talk about their emotions when they see each other in school. The boy replied that he tried to avoid those kinds of conversations because he did not want to say it straight. He admitted that both of them seemed to have "two different personas, like a school persona and an SMS persona" (Aakhus et. al. 183).
The research shows how teenagers treat personal communication of lesser importance. This also indicates the recurring problem in the youth's ability to properly express themselves in personal communication. According to a Fort Knox High School teacher, Patty LaRoche, "after visiting with several employers, she discovered these employers were having a difficult time finding young people to employ that have the interpersonal communication skills needed to be successful in retaining a job" (Silvers).
On the other hand, there are also assessments which are in favor of the success and innovation of text messaging. In Linda Braun's book, Teens, Technology, and Literacy, she emphasizes the advantages of encouraging institutions to utilize the SMS as another alternative for IM (instant messaging) as a medium to provide students the necessary information for his everyday school use. She mentions how accessing the library database through from their cell-phone provides a more convenient way for students to locate the books that they need for their researches.
Though plenty of adults grumble about e-mail and instant-messaging (IM), and the text messages that send adolescent thumbs dancing across cell phone keypads, many experts insist that teenage composition is as strong as ever- and that the proliferation of writing, in all its harried, hasty forms, has actually created a generation more adept with the written word(Braun 23).
She also clarifies the idea that the use of "text lingo" or shortened words does not really hinder the linguistic skills of the youth. On the contrary, she points out that it actually proves the youth's ability to develop an evolving language.
There are also other aspects when text messaging is considered advantageous for some. Based on a study, Mobile Communication and Society, text messaging has become an important initiator in uniting the people in the Philippines which forced the then President Joseph Estrada into stepping down. "In January 2001, thousand of cell-phone-touting Filipinos took part in massive demonstrations, now dubbed ‘People Power II'. This four-day event is generally considered the first time in history that the mobile phone has displayed an instrumental role in removing the sitting president of a nation-state" (qtd. in Castells et.al 186).
Like any other technological devices, text messaging has its share of advantages and disadvantages in the society. However, it is indeed a powerful and beneficial tool if the society would learn to use such technological device in a moderate way. Like what most philosophers argue, anything in its extremes is harmful but moderation can produce a more pleasant output.
- Aakhus, Mark A. and James Everett Katz. Perpetual Contact: Mobile Communication, Private Talk, Public Performance. London: Cambridge University Press, 2002
- Braun, Linda W. Teens, Technology, and Literacy: Or, Why Bad Grammar Isn't Always Bad. United States of America: Libraries Unlimited, 2007.
- Castells, Manuel, et al. Mobile Communication and Society: A Global Perspective : a Project of the Annenberg Research Network on International Communication. United States of America: MIT Press, 2007
- "Linguists mixed on effects of text messaging." 14 February 2008. USA Today. 11 November 2008. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2003-02-14-messaging-linguists_x.htm
- Silvers, Rayma. 13 August 2008. "Concerns grow regarding students text messaging." The Fort Scott Tribune. 11 November 2008