Louise Horstmanshof and Mary R. Power wrote in their 2005 paper, “Mobile Phones, SMS and Relationships” that people are embracing SMS (Short Message Service) communication because it is quick, efficient, cheap and convenient. I agree. More than ever before, SMS is allowing human beings to maintain social and familial connections both locally and overseas.
When it comes to text messaging using my mobile phone, I’m mainly attracted to its efficiency. I consider myself to be very “time poor.” Between work, motherhood, grad school and taking care of my never ending list of daily household tasks, I have little time left during the work week to socialize with people in person or chat on the phone.
And I hate calling people on the phone when my attention is overly divided – screaming child in the background, doing work on my computer, etc. It’s rude and a waste of time for both parties.
SMS and email allows me to “make a connection and affirm my relationships” (Horstmanshof & Power, 33) with friends and family, according to my schedule.
My free time lately seems to only come along late at night – a time of day when it would be inappropriate for me to call someone’s house. So writing email or text messages, regardless of the hour, lets people know I am thinking of them. It helps me maintain friendships that otherwise might have ended due to lack of communication.
SMS is often used by those who feel like making contact, but don’t want to become engaged in a long oonversation. (Horstmanshof & Power, 46)
Now, should SMS take the place of old-fashioned face-to-face or telephone conversation? Absolutely not.
Talking to someone in person, seeing the expression on their face, looking them in the eye, hearing their voice and their tone – that kind of communication can’t be replaced by SMS or email. Despite all the technology that consumes our attention these days, we are still human beings, not machines. “Being” with other people is essential to the human experience.
Horstmanshof, Louise & Power, Mary R. (2005). “Mobile Phones, SMS, and Relationships: Issues of access, control, and privacy.” Australian Journal of Communication, 32(1), pp. 33-52.