A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that texting is now a more popular form of communication for American teenagers than cell phone calls. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has kids. Kish and I have long recognized that texting is the most certain way of reaching Russell, who just celebrated his 22nd birthday, and I imagine texting is even more prevalent among younger people.
Why is this so? I have a few theories. First, I think texting is a preferred mode of communication because it is short. You type a quick message and send it off, and that takes care of that person for a while. No one expects an in-depth text conversation. A few “LOLs” here, an emoticon there, and you have satisfied your communication obligations. It’s easy and quick. Second, texting is highly controllable. You don’t need to have a long phone conversation with someone that could degenerate into awkward silences, or God forbid a boring face-to-face discussion. If the texting interplay becomes dullsville or uncomfortable, you just stop doing it. Third, it plays into the general, decades-long trend of American culture that has seen us go from a highly social, interactive society filled with fraternal organizations, bowling leagues, and book clubs to one where people would rather have time to themselves and interact through technological devices or internet games.
Texting will stay popular until another quicker, more removed, more technological form of communication comes along.