There was a fascinating piece in The Wall Street Journal today, headlined, “Y U Luv Texts, H8 Calls.” Cute, huh? Anyway, the short answer to the implied question was, “We Want to Reach Others But Not to Be Interrupted.” But there was more to it than that.
There were some pretty incredible numbers in there:
For anyone who doubts that the texting revolution is upon us, consider this: The average 13- to 17-year-old sends and receives 3,339 texts a month—more than 100 per day, according to the Nielsen Co., the media research firm. Adults are catching up. People from ages 45 to 54 sent and received 323 texts a month in the second quarter of 2010, up 75% from a year ago, Nielsen says.
100 texts a day? Yeah, kids are pretty nuts about these things, but 100 texts a day? And that’s the average, rather than a pathological extreme? Come on.
Still, its undeniable that for the younger generations, texting is far more important than using the phone as a, well, phone.
That’s true even for an alter cocker like me — although “texts” aren’t my preferred medium. I’m far more likely to use my Blackberry to send an e-mail, or post a Tweet, or send a DM, or respond to a blog comment, than I am to use it to talk to anyone. Enough so that I’ve crippled my thumbs. (The pain is still considerable; I see a doctor next week.)
In total, I’ve sent out 2,702 Tweets since I started a little more than a year ago. That’s a lot, but hardly 100 a day.
Texting is undeniably useful, particularly for communicating under certain circumstances with people who have cell phones that are not “smart.” Last night, for instance, I went to a reception at Rosewood’s at the fairgrounds. When I was leaving that, I planned to connect with my daughter, who had brought her kids to the fair. I tried calling her, and couldn’t hear her over the fair noise. So I texted, “Where are you? I couldn’t hear…” She replied, “We’re @ the picnic tables under a tent right outside entrance to grandstand,” and I answered, “OK, stay there…”
Undeniably useful. But as a substitute for other forms of communication, no, I don’t think so. And how on Earth is it appealing for people who don’t have full QWERTY keyboards on their devices? Talk about tedious…
Kids don’t seem to mind, though. Which provokes a thought: Back in the ’60s, many of us thought we were SO different from our parents. And outwardly, perhaps we were. But this latest development suggests that kids today are actually, cognitively different from us. They’re wired entirely different, and technology has done the wiring.
And what are the social, cultural, political and personal consequences of that?