To text or not to text—that is the question.
Over the past five years, the number of people with text messaging plans has increased dramatically. More than 12.5 million text messages were sent in June 2006, which was a 70 percent increase from June of the previous year, according to the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry.
More recently, the TV show American Idol reported that for the 2009 American Idol finale, voters sent in almost 100 million texts—that’s approximately eight times the amount of texts sent during the entire month of June three years ago.
Although these numbers show that texting is becoming the new norm, what do the few people on campus who do not have texting think of this increasingly popular form of communication?
Sophomore Jill Bird is one of the few non-texters left at Northwestern College. Bird’s mom and dad blocked texting on her phone so she cannot send or receive texts. Her main reason for not buying her own texting plan is because she does not want to waste her money.
“Ten dollars a month, that’s $120 a year, so I don’t think I’m going to get it,” Bird said.
Besides her financial reasons for disliking texting, Bird believes that texting takes away from personal interactions. She gets annoyed when she is talking to someone face-to-face and they start texting someone else.
“I feel like they’re choosing between me and whoever they’re texting,” Bird said. “It makes me feel like I’m not that important.”
Since texters can send multiple messages to more than one friend every minute, Bird appreciates it when her friends take time specifically to call her. She believes that even though she does not have texting, that does not mean she is impossible to contact.
“If someone really needs to talk to me, then it forces them to call me,” Bird said.
Despite her misgivings toward texting, Bird is not completely against it. “It’s so common that I can’t really be too much against it.” She recognizes that texting does have some benefits, including making it easier to give directions and cutting down on awkward conversations.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is freshman Sarah Adams. For Adams, texting is an hourly activity. She has an unlimited texting plan and sends about 100 texts each day.
Adams believes texting is a good thing and is “a way to communicate without interrupting everything that’s going on.” However, even this avid texter realizes that texting has some drawbacks.
“A lot of communication is tone of voice, and that’s taken out, along with body language,” Adams said. Through her experiences, Adams has realized that the chance of miscommunication increases when other modes of communication are eliminated.
“Sarcasm isn’t always seen as sarcasm,” Adams warned.
Freshman Emily Stanislav used to be like Adams and would send copious text messages each day. However, she is currently a non-texter.
“I got a new phone and saw that it had texting on it,” Stanislav said. Unfortunately, the phone did not come with a texting plan. “I racked up a $180 bill,” Stanislav said. This caused her parents to block incoming and outgoing texts on her phone. Currently, however, Stanislav does not want a texting plan. Her texting experience agrees with Adams’. “Texting can lead to a lot of miscommunication,” Stanislav said.
So although NW’s non-texters might feel a little out of the loop, most believe that they are not missing out on quality conversations. As Stanislav put it, texting is good for simple chats but not for having long conversations with her close friends and family; “I’d rather talk to them ear-to-ear than thumb-to-thumb.”