By: Lori Kozlowski, iQ Contributor
Why do we love texting so much?
You type in a little message into a box and press send. Sometimes hundreds times per day. We’ve created our own short-hand language for the medium: LOL, OMG, BRB.
We all know the pains of autocorrect, but even with its seemingly rudimentary fallacies and clunky nature, we still love texting. There’s something fun about it. Something nice about not having to give full attention to a phone call. Sometimes there are fewer awkward pauses.
Though not everyone agrees that the rise in this behavior is a good thing. There’s the danger of texting while driving. (And in some cases, while walking!) But perhaps the greater pitfall is the loss of connection.
Around 2004 (and certainly before 2000), texting wasn’t as common. But now as you walk down the street, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t on their mobile phone. Texting has definitely become more prevalent, and in many cases the chosen mode of communication over talking all together. It can be done from any kind of phone, any time, and by any demographic.
A recent Pew Research study revealed that the volume of texting among teens has risen from 50 texts a day in 2009 to 60 texts a day in 2011 for the average user. Many teens text much more than that, sending hundreds of messages throughout the day.
63% of all teens say they exchange text messages every day. And while the number of texters and texts continues to increase, the average use of landline phones and even phone calls from mobile phones has fallen sharply.
As Sherry Turkle, M.I.T. professor and psychologist, says we’ve “sacrificed conversation for mere connection.”
Part of the reason we choose texting has to do with control. Whereas in person or on the phone, the communication is immediate. With texting you decide when you want to text back. And in some cases, you stop the exchange all together.
Turkle also references what she calls the “Goldilocks Effect.” The idea that, unlike in person or on the phone, writing allows us to edit ourselves -- cleaning up mistakes, typing something but maybe erasing and re-writing before hitting send, changing verbiage to be perfect. Making things “just right.”
It removes the messiness of real human life.
Turkle, author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other,” wrote that “Technology has become the architect of our intimacies.” This is true. Imagine all the little things that pass through your text messages each day -- curse words, confessions, kisses in the form of x’s and o’s.
The question now is: Can we learn to have the tech in our lives, but keep it under control? Isn’t it nice when you go out to dinner with someone and they don’t text at the table? Looking at you, instead of the phone?
The art of conversation in person is still important, and hopefully -- though we love technology -- we remember our humanity in our daily interactions. Hopefully, we use the technology and the technology is not using us.
Just how much do we really text? Check out an insightful infographic from Mashable: