90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Texting vs. Talking: Human Cost?

Talking on the phone is quaint. Land lines being cut. We look at the high speed evolution of American communication.

A couple text message while walking in San Francisco, June, 29, 2010. (AP)

Here’s the news you may already have heard by text message: talking on the telephone is headed out. After a century of communication supremacy, the phone and yakking on it are now so yesterday.

Texting is taking over. Minutes on the phone, talking, is headed down. The number of text messages per day, per month, per minute, is exploding.

And it’s not just a technology change. The rising generation isn’t talking on the phone. It’s texting. And those are very different human interactions.

Efficiency is up.  But nuance is, maybe, down. And a lot is in play.

-Tom Ashbrook


Katherine Rosman, reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of the article, “The Texting Revolution is Here.”  She’s also author of “If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Reporter’s Notebook.”

Naomi Baron, professor of linguistics at American University. She’s author of “Always on: Language in an Online and Mobile World.”

Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • cory

    I’m officially old at 39. I don’t “get” texting. 20 somethings all around me with their faces glued to their cell phone screens tweeting and texting. I just can’t figure out the appeal of it.

  • mad-nomad

    I am 41 and didn’t own a cell phone until last year or a computer. MyFace, Spacebook, Conway twittering, why can’t they just hang up and drive?

  • Grady Lee Howard

    cory: It’s the mature form of “gaming.” Texting fees kind of negate “freedom of speech”, just like ECHELON negates privacy. Blips on a map, telling each other what they had (what their personal device suggested) for lunch. I’ll bet Leslie Marmon (yesterday’s show)is texting all her Acoma buds while she’s talking to them rocks. Rock on, Leslie.

  • Zeno

    My only problem with these devices is when they are used while driving..or anywhere else that endangers others who do not feel they MUST drive and text.

    I was driving behind someone using a cell phone, and their driving was worse than being drunk. The observable difference between when they were on the phone and when not was extreme. It is interesting that these devices could be made inoperable while moving greater than 10 mph, but it is never considered as an option, but must be policed.

  • http://ncpr stillin

    I am sooo glad NOT to own a cell, not to text, and if I want or need to communicate with someone, I can either go see them, ideally, or phone them on a regular pohone. The wwwwwwaaaasted money is sickening on what people spend their money on in the great U.S.A. but it is their choice I know, definately not mine. Thankfully.

  • Yar

    What is the average cost per byte of a text messages? Don’t be the first or last to use a new technology.
    We spend a high percent of GDP on information. Maybe it is time to look at why.
    At the Millennium Dome in London only a decade ago they had an exhibit that indicated half of the people in the world had never made a phone call. I wonder what the percentage is today.

  • Drew

    There’s was an article last year about the biggest markups known to man.
    The winner was texting. I think I recall the markup being at 6,000%.
    I didn’t text before knowing this, but certainly won’t ever now.

    Let people stay glued to their silly little devices, it leaves the more of the beauty of Earth for me.

  • Brett

    I shan’t ever take a noun and make it a verb!

  • Earle

    About Texting While Driving:

    It is unclear, to me–indeeed, baffling–how something so irresponsible, so reckless, as the act of texting while driving, could have become such a widespread practice…..much less take so long for the Commonwealth to have done something about it.

    If one considers the outrage about domestic violence; about hate crimes; about sexual harassment; about drunk driving; about…..; about…..; etc. etc.., it is totally confounding, to me, that anyone could justify the following:

    Literslly, putting his, or her, life in danger, much less endangering everyone else’s life in the process.

    To practice such destructive denial, about the flagrant dangers–and this behavior being as widespread, as it has been–is a sad and deplorable commentary, on yet another example of our ongoing dysfunctional culture.

  • Sam Ulmschneider

    This, too, will pass. Texting provides a very useful model of communication. The constant communication allowed by cell phones and the expansion of everyday social circles by networking enabling software would be overwhelming if it was verbal 24/7 — texting allows delays, multiple senders, and ‘threaded responses,’ which reduce intensity and create flexibility in that medium. It is not going to deconstruct people’s ability to speak in complete sentences or express themselves in other contexts, because it is entirely dependent on a cell phone or other device for its use.

    As an aside: Texting is simply a new communications technology. When newsprint became cheap, people worried about the proliferation of comics. When the quadraplex telegraph was invented, people wondered if the pace of communication was changing too much to allow time to think. When radio became popularized, people prognosticated the death of the book and educated discourse.

  • Peter Smyth

    I’m 60 something and I often text rather than call. The great advantage is that that person you are communicating with does not have to interrupt something to answer, or listen to a vocemail later. I would often rather get a text than a call so I can keep doing whatever I am about.
    The ancillary behavior also worth noting is that we don’t answer phone calls a we used to. We screen calls, ignoring them or letting them go to voice mail.
    Ear to ear is still fine for some conversations, but text with someone you know is powerful and often more clear.

  • jeffe

    Wow the On point police are out in force today.
    Do a show on how the health care system in Massachusetts is falling apart. Commenwealth care is falling apart and tens of thousands of people like me are falling through the cracks and we all eventually get fined.

    Text messaging as far as I can see is kind of cell phone crack.

    Sam I disagree, it stiffens communication. I constantly see people walking together and they are both glued to their phones. I see groups of school kids hanging out all text messaging and from what I gather not relating to each other one too one.

    I like having a cell phone, but it seems to me to many people have real problems using them way to much for the most inane things. The driving thing should be like driving while under the influence, period. If it’s proven you have been on your phone while driving and you have an accident you should have your license suspended.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I have transcribed many restraining order hearings, and last I noticed, the judges have refused to include texting in the stay-away orders. They can tell people not to call, not to try to contact, etc., but if someone complains “he keeps texting me,” the judge will tell that so-and-so to ignore it.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Cory et al: I’m “actually” old at 58 and I’ve been texting as long as there have been computers. Texting off the cell grid is called “chatting” and I use iChatAV (and at times now Facetime on the iPhone) as well as texting on an iPhone for everything Sam talks about above and more.

    I live in Connecticut and I built and ran an early social web site for a silicon valley company with a woman who lives in rural Germany, a guy in Boston and another guy in Cupertino, California. Having real time chatting capability was an incredibly useful part of the process. I never actually met or spoke with the woman in Germany until years later yet we worked closely together almost daily for years.

    We tend to discuss things like this in zero sum terms: texting is in, cell calls are out, etc. but it’s not like that. It’s all available to anyone who wants to make use of it and if it’s not useful it doesn’t get used.

    I find it easier now to text my wife that my plane has landed than to call her. She finds it easier to get a text from our granddaughter when she’s ready to be picked up.

    I’m not hearing today’s show live as I’m busy but will listen later through streaming. I hope Tom doesn’t frame it in zero sum terms, that would be a mistake.

    Oh, and I don’t text and drive, never have, never will. I do text while driven though.

  • John

    A relative of mine a week ago last Sunday on Boston’s North Shore, was rear-ended by someone and her SUV was totaled. Fortunately, she wasn’t injured. The interesting thing was that she was stopped as the car in front of her was stopped while waiting to take a left hand turn, and she saw while looking in her rear view mirror, the car approaching and driver looking down and not ahead. She suspected the driver that he hit her was texting and a couple witnesses said the driver was indeed texting while driving. The driver was not a teenager.

  • Albert

    I am 47 and text all the time, more than talk on the phone. I guess I was an early adopter, when emails came out, I was on top of that, the internet, then instant messenger (AIM, which I used ALL the time and rarely do now, due to Facebook) then Facebook, etc, etc……my peers always on my case about it and then they wind up doing the same thing a few years later! Even my mother now texts and she’s 68!

  • jeffe

    One interesting thing to note Virgin is offering a $25 per month service with unlimited texting.
    It’s a great deal but it’s on Sprint’s network.

  • jeffe

    I can see how this is better than calling.
    You can respond or not. I’m just not up on using it.

    I guess I should learn…

  • Elizabeth Giles

    Texting may actually be less hazardous to health than calling, as the cell phone – and its tumor-promoting electromagnetic fields – is held further from the head.

  • Nay

    Before telephones, there were calling card and, my gosh, hand written letters! Are text messages the new calling card?

  • India

    I still prefer talk to text. However, my 20-year-old son away at college texts me about things he would never take the time to call me about; sometimes he just sends a photo–a picture is worth a thousand words! Even though we do have a regular once-weekly phone call, the quick, casual nature of text lets us be in touch informally, and more frequently.

  • Mary

    My husband is a chef, and we communicate much more during the day because of texting than we would otherwise. I never know when he is in the middle of prep, in meetings, putting meals out, etc. Sometimes I call his office line because I at least know, if he answers it, he is sitting at his desk. I only call his cell in an emergency.

  • Anne

    Is it really that hard to understand?

    A cell phone is not the same as a home phone. If you are calling a cell, the person could be anywhere and doing anything. If you are calling a house, then they are likely at their leisure. The knowledge that you will ALWAYS get someone, means that you shouldn’t always be trying to get them.

  • Jack

    If texting is preferred by youth over phone conversations because they are brief and to the point, why do they need 300 per day? It seems they are simply having the same conversations using a different medium.

  • Emily

    What about skyping? My 11 year old daughter’s friends text with each other, but we don’t have a texting plan, so my daughter can only text a couple of times a month. However, she does have skype, and it seems that she and her friends choose to skype rather than make a simple, old-fashioned phone call.

  • Brion McFarlin

    The “New Etiquette” idea of texters feeling that phone calls are invasive is not exactly new.
    Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, purportedly refused to have a phone in his house because he believed it unseemly for someone to come calling without first presenting their card.
    What goes around has apparently come around.

  • A Listener

    Katherine Rosman makes a good point about how voice intonation and intent is lost in a text. Sometimes you don’t know that the other person is angry at you. At other times, sometimes you mistakenly ‘read’ an angry voice in a text message when there isn’t one there.

    This has been a common problem since forums were created back in the 70′s, but now it’s a problem that is more widely known.

    I think the loss of information is good in the long run. We will become more nuanced in our writing. And by taking out the emotional baggage, people can focus on the problem at hand and not get caught up in inflaming each others feelings.

  • Dave B

    I’m sure there are ways to include nuance in texting as well. Just because us old people don’t know what that is. Did people bemoan the loss of body language and visual cues when the telephone became big?

    Besides, many examples of inane texts come from teenagers. I’m not sure how much more sophisticated their conversations are anyway.

  • Expanded Consciousness

    You make a phone call and it is a performance. You write, text, and you create yourself.

  • Darrell

    I am 53
    Lost land line in 1996
    using cell phone since
    Just started texting three years ago (because of kids)
    Don’t have a great phone for texting so I use abbreviation

    k = okay
    gut = good
    time? = what time
    c u = see you
    where r u = where are you

    just the ones I use

  • BHA

    I have noticed that text messages aren’t “instantaneous” as one might expect since phone call are.

    One specific example: A friend was picking me up at the airport. I sent a text from the plane when we landed. She picked me up and took me to the hotel so I could change for the Theater practice that was to start in 25 minutes, 20 minutes away.

    I was in the elevator and I got a text message from her. I’m thinking “Geez, I’m hurrying as fast as I can!”

    The message said “I’m here”.
    I’m thinking “well YEAH, you just dropped me off!”. Then I figured out that the message was sent when she got to the airport 20 minutes earlier.

    So if someone doesn’t answer your text RIGHT NOW, don’t get upset. The message may not be there for some time.

  • Art

    my wife is emotionally attached to her phone number that she has had since college. so we keep the home phone. I love that texting allows me to communicate something silly or frivolous over the course of a day with a friend out feeling that i am eating up someones time.

  • Christina

    I prefer texting to a phone call mainly because it’s automatically saved to my phone, and their phone, so I can look at it again, which eliminates the possiblity of forgotting what someone told you on the phone, and eliminates some level of miscommunication that comes from talking on the phone. especially when discussing something with a decent amount of detail – which you’d have to write down anyways, so this saves a step. Example: “Please pick me up at Godwin Hall at 5pm” is better through text, because someone can get the time or location wrong if they forget the message if it’s just stored in their mind.

  • Caleb

    27- Boston. Have to disagree with your contributors. Why would I make a call to get an address or phone # (which I then need to write down) or to state a place to grab drinks after work? Total waste of a phone call. Furthermore, I favor email more and more for work because I want things in writing. We’re going back to using the written word here. Why is that viewed as bad? Any communication is good communication. And how is more communication, more specific communication (etiquette for a text vs email vs talk) a bad thing?

  • Marianna

    I’ve never really liked talking on the phone. I am a big fan of skype! My husband has been in the UK for 3 weeks and talking to him on Skype has been like having him right here. The difference has been being able to actually see each other. i think texting is too condensed, unless for something really brief.

  • Steve L

    If I don’t answer the phone it’s because I don’t want to talk so I won’t respond to email or text either.

    Text is OK for some things but is NOT a means of communication.

    Communication requires processing thought into words, whether spoken or written. Text seems to abbreviate everything into bits of nonsense. The text devices are not efficient for reading or writing complete thoughts.

    Maybe someday, but not now – perhaps when voice to text then text to voice works it will become worthwhile :)

  • Expanded Consciousness

    Image if this comments section was voice messages. It would be ridiculous.

  • Scott

    Because I travel extensively – my kids both have cell phones and I receive a text when they get home from school, etc. Texting allows me to keep in touch with them and make sure they are ok. Also, how cool is it that I get a text from my daughter that says nothing more than “I love you” while I am standing on the floor of a trade show?

  • http://Ncpr.org Tyler comins

    I’m 32 my father is 60 and going deaf. He has difficulty hearing on the telephone. Our communication went from 2-3 times per week talking to several times per day texting. I believe it’s brought us closer. My brother and I also communicate much much more often using text. Jokes, quick thoughts and funny pictures are very common. First time tweeter great program Tom.

  • http://www.guidianconsulting.com Cathy Marchiando

    The gentleman who said that he has 10K texts per month is sending a text every 2 minutes during waking hours. I think this is incredibly distracting and I wonder how people get anything else done…..

  • Bob Klehm

    I see a real problem with texting. I think that it is forcing our society to become antisocial. I am like James Taylor – I leave a write a long letter and get back a post card – when I communicate with my wife and daughters. They all send back a 3 word TXT to my long-winded voice message. And, they don’t answer my question.

  • Rex

    I would rather talk to someone and get a straight up conversation. I have received text messages in return to my phone calls asking what I want and it drives me crazy.

    But, I have figured out that girls respond more frequently to text messages to trivial matters. If texting has become the norm, a phone call now seems even more personal and important.

    Consider this post as a text, because I really shouldn’t be taking time away from work to get on the radio.

  • http://wbur Daniel S

    I think there’s also a financial reason behind texting. Many companies only give you so many “anytime” minutes. Texting allows people to send messages for free without using up minutes and therefore incurring more charges on their cell phone bill.

  • Sam

    Texting, like many new technologies, allow humans to shelter and therefore nurture our insecurities. It eliminates the need for us to confront difficult or strenuous situations, and promotes a more selfish perspective on information and interaction.

  • Vijay

    I’m 22, the question for me is can one make a text message artful? That is, preventing urself frm txting like dis 2 ur peeps, and instead using that small space to compose something witty, creative and expressive while remaining useful as conveying a message…
    I like to look at a blank text composition to a good friend as a blank canvas for me to paint the most interesting picture in 160 words.

  • http://shulmandesign.net Alan Shulman

    As with all technologies, some will wholeheartedly embrace, some will with hesitation, and some will resist, dismiss, etc. Eventually, the usefulness or lack thereof of such technologies tends to settle out. I do wonder about folks who appear to need constant contact, whatever its content or quality, whatever the mode. Are we becoming more and more cells in some vast organism whose outlines we cannot yet perceive?

  • BHA

    “he believed it unseemly for someone to come calling without first presenting their card.”

    He should have invented caller ID at the same time! We look at the presented ‘card’ and decide if we want to let the person ‘in’.

  • John H. Huber

    I’m 39. I find texting useful in certain applications, however, I have found that the increase in texting to be particularly appalling. Texting, like email, is good for specific types of communications, however the prevalence of text and email has decreased our level of communication. It is a poor substitute for Voice communication. Additionally, texting often is less efficient time wise. I find it infuriating and rude to find people permanently glued to thier phone texting while you are trying to speak very rude. Additionally, I find the new ettiquette to be offensive. I’m infuriated that I have to text you three, four, five times or more to get something across that I could have done much quicker via a voice communication. I resent that I am being forced to this less efficient form of communicating that just increases the level of misunderstanding.

  • Anne

    It’s unclear how dangeroug cell phones are for you. I have lost a sister-in-law and a cousin to brain cancer. I am glad my kids text instead of talk — with the phone pressed to their heads

  • http://onpointradio.org Allison

    My bet is that most of those 45-55 year olds who are texting have teenagers who have “introduced” them to this new easier way of communicating. I much prefer to text people and I love being able to keep in contact with my teenagers via text. I am less worried about their eventual move away and going to college as I can communicate more informally with them via text and without it seeming intrusive.

  • Robyn Majewski

    My 20 something was genuinely perplexed when she realized that I didn’t consider texts from her as having the same intimate value as a phone conversation with her. I was just as perplexed! We have each made some compromises for the other!

  • Kelly Knowlton

    I am 31 and I love texts. A quick note from a friend or loved one brightens my day without having to take time out of work to talk. I also enjoy texts because with friends in varying countries and time zones it lets me say “hi” and still feel like I am a part of their lives in a very convenient way.

  • richard edwards

    Texting is an example of mass marketing changing behaviors to separate the young and dumb from the old and wise and keep the sheep asleep

  • Michelle Barbee

    As a 42 year old with a 13 year old son, I love texting. We communicate regularily when we’re apart and it has developed his skills of constructing his thoughts and putting them in print. Texting also forces people to be succint and encourages them to use just the right word to communicate the correct thought.

  • Liz Ryan Cole

    One aspect of this is offensive – Everyone is forgetting those of us who don’t have cell service because the rural areas simply don’t provide enough income for the providers and in this “let the free market replace the government” era. So the person who says she doesn’t check her voice mail is simply blowing off those of us who can’t reach her via cell.

  • Rebecca

    I think we have forgotten what real friendship is. Real friendship is difficult and takes effort and skill. Texting is a way to avoid this work. You do only what YOU want when YOU want. We crave connection, but connect in only this most basic way.

    Frankly, I feel hesitant even when emailing someone. I feel like I am invading their space. I rarely call anyone anymore, except my next door neighbor, one of my few REAL friends. I do talk to my children and extended family via both phone and email.

  • Greg LeRoy

    This texting phenomena is yet another sad commentary about the degradation of our culture via technology. Entire segments of our population apparently can’t survive for a minute without interfacing with an electronic device. Conversations (landline or face to face) often had a thoughtful, defined purpose and enabled all the subtleties of human communication to be included. Now, even informal meetings are interrupted by another’s receipt of some form of electronic communication. This detracts, rather than enchances, the quality of human interaction. We are paying a tremendous sociological cost for this technology perceived as a convenience or the norm.

  • http://Frankston.com/public Bob Frankston

    Having used email since the 1960′s it’s obvious that you want to use asynchronous messaging rather than voice. In the 90′s my voice mail messages said “send me email”.

    But today’s texting is at the CB radio stage — we’re repurposing an buggy accident of today’s cellular. We need to think about a communications system in which messaging is the norm and voice (and video and voice/video grams) are simply modes you can choose when appropriate. For that matter radio is just many to one voice.

    BTW, in the 1960′s there were radio shows in which one would send telegrams instead of phoning in.

  • BHA

    “Texting allows people to send messages for free without using up minutes and therefore incurring more charges on their cell phone bill.”

    Only if you have unlimited texting.
    We use TracFone because we DON’T use it a lot. Phone calls are 1 unit per minute. Texts are .3 units per text sent OR received. You can blow a LOT of units with short back and forth texting compared to conveying the same info in a short phone call.

  • Paul J Mushrush

    My girlfriend, a high school teacher and mother of a 15 year old, has found that students will much more readily communicate with their parents through texting, than they will by phone call, because their friends will not know that they’re talking to their folks and can assume that they’re flirting with friends by texting through their phones.

  • MBR

    I have a prepaid phone. I don’t talk on the it much and pretty much have it so that I can talk to my sisters, mom and husband. Lately I have been getting text from my cousins asking to borrow money. Since they not seeing me face to face they see nothing wrong with it.

  • N

    What about the rise of self-absorption and narcissism in relation to this form of communication?

  • Mark brown

    My wife and I enjoy creating txts using emoticons only to relay our message, literally illustrates the versatility and concise nature of txting in general. 

  • Jill Chase

    I’m a very written-word oriented person, so many times I’d prefer to send an email over a phone call. I do not text at all and have no interest in it, I think because of what it lacks. You cut spelling, grammar, and nuance. Too many chances to be misunderstood.
    I find that as someone who likes words, email is a wonderful opportunity to really use the English language to it’s fullest. To get your true meaning & feelings across, you have to choose your words, your grammar, your punctuation very carefully. It kind of gives the language a chance to flourish in all it’s richness. And I take pride in good spelling and good grammar in that context.
    I also still love snail mail, but I find I don’t do as much of it as I used to.

  • Pete

    I feel almost an anxiety when I think that actual vocal conversation is being “phased out.” At 37, I am behind the curve, but the fact is that I still learn from speaking with people. My mind, ideas, and relationships grow through the act of talking with someone, in a way that simply does not happen when (as I am doing now) I simply write to a blank page and send it off.

    I text regularly, but I mourn for conversation. My best teacher and favorite pastime is becoming “rude.”

    -Pete (typing this only because I’m at work).

  • Antonia

    Have you mentioned the impulse toward “self-narration” that texting allows? One can instantly communicate thoughts that used to be not only private, but fleeting and thus not ever shared. Being able to broadcast these fleeting thoughts gives them an importance that they don’t always (or even often) deserve!

    I think the rise of a “paparazzo” culture has moved this along, too–we see celebrities’ lives constantly narrated, so we’re elevating the status of our own lives if we text or tweet our self-narration.

  • Lisa F.

    I love to text for all the reasons that have been discussed. However, since not everybody pays for texting plans or unlimited texting plans, sending someone a text can cost the recipient money. Like calling someone collect. That always makes me hesitate to text someone who I’m not sure is an avid texter.

  • Expanded Consciousness

    You are all a bunch of grandmothers wagging your finger. Why don’t you go onto a mountain top and send smoke signals.

  • Lenore

    What happened to the importance and beauty of voice intonation? While texting may be a quick way of getting information across, isn’t the emotional aspect of human communication being lost?

    I use email a lot, and some IM, but often when reading them over, I know the full meaning of what I want to say is not getting communicated. Let’s not lose our humanity.

  • Jayme

    I’m 23 years old and my friends and I usually text just as much as we talk on the phone. Last week, I lost my cell phone but with current technology, such as GoogleVoice, I have been able to remain in contact with friends and family through the internet. Anyone can text or call my GoogleVoice number and I get the message in my email. I can even respond to texts from my computer. Without this free texting service, I would be completely lost right now.

  • Steve L

    Perhaps all this will be resolved as those who text and drive die off in auto crashes.

  • Steve T

    What’s amazing is that practically anyone anywhere can contact anyone else anywhere in the world.

  • Preet

    Imagine on point without a conversation :-) and use texting instead.

  • http://n/a Julie

    This is a question for the linguist who’s on…What I’m wondering is whether kids who are growing up texting especially–but even all of us who text–may actually be losing one or more linguistic skills that are kept in practice by writing or having a certain proportion of interactions be spoken interactions. Is conversation a skill, or an art? Is human culture–even quality of life–going to be affected in the next generation by the medium of texting, perhaps for better in some ways, perhaps for worse?

  • Brian

    I’ve just turned 27 last summer and every time I take a girl out on a date at some point early-on I mention how offensive I find it when people answer cell phones or text messages while out having dinner or a conversation with someone in real-time. I tell them how I can’t understand why people that interrupt with texts should be given priority over someone that’s taken time out of their day for direct face-to-face interaction. If they do answer these things I sometimes walk off to the bathroom without notice or make some sort of face. Usually, this works and keeps cell phones from becoming a nuisance.

  • Chip Highfield

    Texting and e-mail, for that matter, is diminishing the ability of people to actually listen to another person, as well as to take in and read another persons tone, facial and body language. The boston globe just printed an article relaying the precipitous drop in empathy among college age people. evidence is the young man who just called in and stumbled over his answer to why he and his long distance girlfriend text there relationship rather than hear each other’s voices because, well, “it’s not the same..she doesn’t sound like herself…” how will they ever live together?!

  • Alex

    While visiting my home country of Ukraine (haven’t been in 7 years) I noticed that no one uses voice mail there at all! My dad said that at first cell phone companies offered the service but very soon people started feeling that it’s too tedious to check it every time you get a message, so the companies would be swamped with requests to cancel the service. To the point where they actually stopped offering it. So what happens when you call someone whose phone is off is that they get your missed call when they turn on the phone and you also get notified when they turn the phone on. Then you can have a conversation. Unless of course you chose to txt!

  • Ellen Dibble

    A woman guest is saying that greater care with texting would bring them up to the level of letters.
    The difference is lost, though, because texting can be responded to immediately. If you are misunderstood, the receiver can correct you.
    I’d say when a response is available immediately, we begin to learn to think communally. Not group-think as historically defined, meaning everyone agrees.
    I mean with texts, you can acknowledge you don’t have a totally complete conclusive position. You have a partial contribution to what more than one person can come up with.
    Texts can be incomplete thoughts, because they can be responded to before a week later.

  • joe


    I don’t text. I’m 43 and only get 3 texts a month from marketers. Texting allows people to act in extremes like saying things they wouldn’t normally say face to face. Some say this lack of civility is what people really want to say and thus it’s more ‘true.’ However, the ability to hold back and not be brave only behind the keypad makes us more civil and peaceful.

    Be more responsible for what you say, not less!

  • Tracie wright

    What a timely show! Two days ago my high school daughter had a friend over who spent the 2 hours constantly checking her cell phone and texting. It struck me as though she was whispering to someone hidden in her pocket. Your guest’s comment that the distraction of the ‘listener’ is annoying and unfortuately our new norm. How do you have public discourse when folks involved are easily distracted? In our world of ADHD this new trend only normalizes a less involved communication.

  • Kellie Moreman

    My husband calls me everyday from work simply to say “I love you” and ask ” How’s your day going?”. It wouldn’t be the same reading a text rather than hearing his voice!

  • Kat

    Texting has its place but not for emotionally charged issues. Recently got into an argument with a friend over a misunderstanding all through text. I tried to call but the friend did not pick up. It may be easier to say something hard or difficult over text, but harder to resolve.

  • David

    I’ve noticed with my 15 year old daughter’s texting that every text communication she has is of equal importance with any other, and since most of her texts are pretty banal, she is not learning that some communications are more important than others. The result is that she often thinks that anything she has on her mind to say to us is important enough to demand our rapt attention, even if it means she just thought of the color yellow.

  • Expanded Consciousness

    If you are against typing texts, then why are you on here typing short messages on a comment board? Are you loosing intimacy with me or are you gaining complex information? Send me a response with a stamp. I’ll check my mailbox in 3 days.

  • Andrew Stone

    I’ve always understood that there is an intimate connection between writing and thought. The new technology circumvents this fundamental principal, namely to own or possess or think a complex idea you must be able to articulate in writing, which is a process invariablely involves false starts, inappropriate diction, and multiple revisions…

    The very verb “texting” betrays its commitment to writing as a PRODUCT and not as the (traditional) PROCESS involving decision making, revision and the struggle to find the right word(s)

  • Katherine

    I believe that Martin Heidegger proposed a similar problem with human interaction and technology in “being and time” published in 1927. Heidegger wrote about “dasein”, a German word/ concept that roughly translates to the soul or overall being of a person, and that it is the goal of all dasein to reach out to other daisein (other people) and extend themselves as far as possible. In heideggers time, the technology in question was the radio, allowing us to gain an understanding of others in far away places, becoming an extension of ones own being. The irony he found in this was that what we believe is fulfilling our goal of reaching out, we lose site of more immediate goals of dasien, interactions with those right next to us. He certainly had great foresight in terms potential perils of technology and human interaction, and this us exactly what is happening now, here I am texting a friend across the country, and I feel that i am getting some human needs fulfilled, however I am missing out on my immediate community, and that is exactly what Heidegger found to be a tragic consequence of technology.

  • http://Martinathiel.org Martin A. Thiel

    This whole “instant connectivity” is symptomatic of the decline of our civilization. Tom Golman in Emotional Intelligence gives a cogent explanation of this in that our lower (reptilian braing) much as the autistic brain is tuned in to threats and survival. Our upper more human brain can collate, interpret and explain our experience and is where all of our higher human and rational functions are located. Evolution has provided a short circuit of “fight or flight” where a few milliseconds of reaction might have some survival value especially over many thousands of years. An additional point is that 80% of communication is at an anthropomorhic (body language level MAT (75)254-1795

  • dMitri

    Shortly after my ex-wife and I separated we gave our daughters mobile phones in order to coordinate pickups and check-ins. Very quickly my youngest, she is 10, made it clear that she did not like talking. And forget about voice mails! She is a text only phone communicator. To that point, she changed her voice mail message to an ear piercing, screatching, nails on chalk board, scream. There is no way one could possibly sit through 30 seconds of that!

    Another interesting point… since they have phones, we are texting regularly. I was worried that our relationship would suffer withthe divorce however having the option to text as an avenue of communication, I found that not to be the case. When one of my daughters is bored, lonely or have something fun to share, they will text me…. we even trade jokes and riddles.

  • Roberta

    I’ve always disliked talking on the phone. I don’t have the nerve to cut the conversation short and I have some kind of phobia about answering a phone, so texting makes it really easy for me to hind behind my fears. So, this whole new way of communication is just not good for my mental health and I’m sure for many thousands of others. We are all not confronting a very major problem – avoiding people in general.

  • chip Highfield

    Your guest just spoke to talking to her sister several times a day. Who does that?! What is all the gabbing about. she complains that there is little special thought put into the calls. I think she answers this by saying the sending is so constant- no one is taking time to just be with there own thoughts, so the constant spew is so unconsidered and, in the end, often trivial. I remember the song that says, “You talk too much, you worry me to death!”

  • Tom

    e-mail still rules. You can get to it from more devices, including your laptop and computer.

  • jb

    I think that saying that “crafting” a text as your guest suggested can imply tone is completely inaccurate.

    By definition texting or any other technology does not have the ability to relay tone. If people who are texting one another know one another REALLY well, the “tone” of a text may help, but in general texting is a means for short, mechanical messages.

    It’s unfortunate that people don’t sit and converse face-to-face like they used to. I think that true connections and understanding of other people really comes from face-to-face interaction. I suppose when you have or had a culture that was lacking in that before this technology came around the use of these new technology was grabbed upon as a replacement for what we were lacking before it was put in place.

  • Alan

    In face to face communication it has been shown that at least half of what is communicated is non-verbal. Posture,facial expressions, eye-contact and other things all provide information about the emotional state of the person, how strongly they feel about something, and other critical subtleties. None of these electronic communication methods can provide this type of very important information. If I really want to know “where a person is at”, I need to meet them face to face.

  • Jason

    I still use voice as my own primary communication, but I am gradually noticing more and more people that are very annoying to talk to on the phone. I don’t know if it is simply coincidence, but every time I discover someone that I dread calling it turns out that that person is a texter. I can think of 3 scenarios that may have caused my dislike of talking to these texters. Perhaps texting allows certain, otherwise socially inept, people to join my communication circle. Or maybe it is the habit of texting that has turned them into poor voice communicators. The third possibility is that I, myself, am just morphing into a texter and my tolerance for phone conversations is dwindling.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Do tweets and texts save up like voicemails in a sort of inbox? Or is the only way you know the tweet or text was received the fact of there being a response?
    If that’s the case, no wonder everybody is tweeting back: “I’m here; don’t think I’m out of touch.”
    I agree, it would be better not to have the device at all, than to be chained to it like that. That’s not “being in control.” That’s being totally controlled by it.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Well noted Expanded Consciousness. Many in this and other discussions at this site forget that this is a “blog” which has comment threads. Those who take part in comments here, especially those who leave and come back and comment again and again are crudely recreating a texting environment which is nothing more than a potentially threaded conversation with one or many via a cell network rather than via a web site running a blog (wordpress) with commenting turned on.

    It’s all good.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Ellen: Like you’re chained to this comment thread? Careful, you spend a lot of time here.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Richard, I’m inquiring can you turn texting off without your communications going into the equivalent of undelivered mail. When I’m chained to this particular computer anyway, it’s great to have this comment line. It’s less fattening than running for a snack every time I get totally disheartened by my work.
    But I don’t miss a response if I’m not watching the site when it comes in. So it’s intermediate between letters and tweets (I suppose). You know you’re building with thoughts and experiences in a way that’s greater than one (think of the juries where we say they are more than the sum of their parts).
    It’s like having a changing and invisible assembly, where talking at the same time is okay. Where there is not one Chair ruling people’s time and topic too tightly. Agreed, it’s great. The variety of perspectives brought here is much, much wider than I could ever assemble in the “real world,” certainly wider than could be kept from either fighting or flighting any particular day.

  • jb

    Here is an article from the Washington Post on a book called “A Good Talk – The story and skill of conversation” by Daniel Manker.


  • Lon C Ponschock

    My eternal gratitude to the maker of this image:


  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Ellen: I have the sound turned off on my iPhone so if it’s not in hand, I don’t know that a text or call is coming in. If it’s in hand or pocket it vibrates and I can choose to ignore or deal with incoming stuff.

    Texts that are not dealt with just sit there like email, waiting to be answered, ignored, deleted. Simple.

    With any type of online conversation one has to balance being in the conversation in real time (chat, text) with a slower kind of conversation that you can walk away from and come back to later (email, comments like these, blog posts with comments).

    What we tend to do here at times is push commenting into real time conversation and what some do with texting is use it as a slower form of conversation without real time replies.

    We can do with these technologies what we like, or, as some here do, ignore them all together.

  • jean

    Manners, manners, manners, what’s happening to them? who’s teaching them?

    We were out to breakfast with our grandson last weekend and his mother (my daughter-in-law), who knew that he was eating a meal with us, was engaged in a running text conversation with him – until I instructed him to text back that we were at the table, now.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Jean: Take phone, turn it off, eat, enjoy grandson, when done, turn phone on, call daughter/mom, have words. Simple.

  • Ben

    The social origins of this trend seems pretty clear to me. Alot these kids grew up on their parent’s restrictive cell phone plan. Unlimited texts cost around $10. Unlimited voice? ha. Non-existent with many carriers. Going over your minutes can (and has) lead to some astronomical cell phone bills.

    With parents comming down hard on kids who went over their minutes, it quickly becomes a social “no-no” to impose on someone elses cell phone mintues without express permission.

    It’s simple social-economics really. Texting is cheaper, cell-phone companies are greedy, and times are are hard. If the cell phone companies change their billing scheme (which I’m sure they will if the voice-vs-text trend continues), then you will see people change their behavior accordingly.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    I respectfully disagree Ben. If all services were a flat rate on cell phones kids and many adults would still text rather than call. Texting allows broadcast to many, threaded discussions, media attachments, and asynchronous discussion.

    It’s a different medium and I don’t think its being chosen because of cost, it’s being chosen because people like it.

    I’m on the west coast for a few days and I could easily pick up my phone and call my wife in Connecticut but as Jean said above, I don’t want to interrupt her dinner. Instead, I’ll text her and the text will sit there until she decides to answer it. I could also email her although she tends to reply to texts more quickly.

  • Zinovy Vayman

    I was happy to hear the reference to haiku as a suitable genre for texting. Perhaps, Boston was ahead of the mentioned cell phone poetry contest in Gt Britain.
    Dig this:

    The Results of Kaji Aso Remembrance Poetry Contest 2007

    Kaji Aso Remembrance Prize Suseki Publishing Award

    drunk enough soft
    an apricot on the forest quiet
    still on its stem a woman’s quiet voice

    Paul Miller Jim Kacian
    Bristol, Rhode Island Winchester, Virginia

    Haikai Boston Award Haiku villages Award

    war memorial afternoon sun
    we blow up tessellations
    the old one in the fence shadows

    Ernest J. Berry Deb Baker
    Picton, New Zealand Americus, Georgia

    Haibun Award

    A different path from Basho’s Narrow Road*
    Longing for peace and calm after such a busy month, I must escape from telephone, email, meetings. Goolwa draws me: quiet country town, extensive ocean beach. At night distant lights will twinkle along the coast. Monday morning dawns, a bright day of holiday sunshine. I pack the car…
    I drive through jacaranda air
    seeking stillness
    The hilltop house is empty, cold, pristine though beautiful. A burst of yellow gazanias welcomes me. In the rear garden-natives in flower-Geraldton wax offer purple, and eremophila a paler mauve. In a vase these flowers give life to the solid wood of the family table. With dusk I begin to relax into the serenity of a sunset-painted sky. Darkness gathers. At night the storm breaks…
    battering winds…
    the house turbulent
    my thoughts whirl
    Can a dwelling less than five years old, even in a raging gale, be so clamorous? The gentleness of sleep is inhabited by clattering, banging, flapping. Footsteps on the stairs? The ghost of architect, builder, painter? For two nights, two days, wind and rain lash. At last the wildness ceases. Sun warms. Birds sing…
    high above the wide bay
    my loneliness becomes solitude
    *I understand that a haibun should have a reference to Basho, the Japanese Master of the form.

    Dawn Colsey Newton, South Australia

    Long Poem Award

    Whew-my eyes are all wet-and-I-sit-breathless

    No wonder why I wondered if you’re a writer!?

    As I’ve just read, and ‘ve immersed in the waters
    Of your words and your verses
    Of the images of your pains
    And your moans and your groans

    I can see you reach on the beach
    For the broken stem
    Of the broken bottle
    Or the broken stem
    Of the stalk of a flower

    And wonder, up here in my mountains
    So far overseas,
    What will you do with that flower?
    An’ what will you do with your power?

    The tear remains on my cheek
    I feel humble ‘n I feel a bit weak

    Sue Tourkin Komet Jerusalem, Israel

    There is no HAIGA Prize awarded this time since haiga creations on hand
    have not matched the criteria of the Haiku Villages,Inc. and Suseki

    Not many tanka were received.

    The first Haiku Cell
    competition was run by using text messages delivered by mobile phones.

    Tanka Award Haiku Cell Award

    I came to you
    because you fell asleep
    thinking of me
    what shall we do
    in this dream of yours?

    Andre Surridge

    New Zealand

    up and coming funeral:
    whoever you are
    see you later

    Ilya Michelson



  • Jennifer Goulart

    I work at a local university, and I have to communicate with some students – undergrad and grad, and my office phone does not have the technology to text. Do you think that soon all businesses will trade in their landlines so we can all text eachother?

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Jennifer: Landlines don’t do text. Texting is a technology that exists on cell services only.

    You might use instant messaging to reach them if you can do that on your computer through your university network. I did that for years to communicate with my students (and co-workers).

  • Demian

    great conversation,
    Remember, every text is one instant thought or partial thought. Not a full conversation.
    so, whereas a call may have bundle of thoughts, a full text conversation may consist of many texts.
    It also provides a back and forth in the conversation with back-tracking capability. Great for us guys that can’t remember the last conversation we had with our gals.

  • Duncan Kimball

    For me I have always noticed that Any communication that was not Face to face, lacked real value. Like when I use to talk to my GF on the phone it was less valuble to me then when I saw them Face to face and then Once texting became popular It got even worse. With each step away from Face to face talking I noticed that when face to face occured It became more awkward and diffcult to talk to them on a personal level face to face.. Pretty much the more we speak on line or via phone or text we loss that real value of interpersonal expresion that we get from face to face talking.. I dont like this loss of connection.. think about all the times you have misunderstood the a text or something like that, when had you talked in person it would have never been misunderstood. anyway thank you

  • Shermin

    I communicate in the following order:
    3)gmail chat/skype

    One thing left out so far is that there are now just better ways to talk if you really want to – why phone when you can have a video chat? It costs more for a start, not to mention the cell-phone cancer scare that’s still unsettled.

  • Duncan kimball

    I feel chained to my phone .. I feel that Personal interaction is very lost to texting. and that it makes face to face harder to have happen when texting and phone is being used so much

  • alison

    So bummed I missed this conversation this morning when I could have called in!

    I want to state that I am a speech pathologist who works with studetns that cannot communicate without some form of assistance. Texting can be a great device, but can NEVER replace voice or face-to-face. One of the biggest struggles I see with my students is that they cannot convey intonation and their responses do not allow for the natural “flow” of a conversation. Texting is a great tool but it has a place. I fear that we are overrun with technology and I am “young” at 29 i’ve had a cell phone since I was 16.

    Also – consider the lack of eye contact, lack of social interaction that texting allows when we are with a group of people. looks a lot like some individuals on the autism spectrum…..

  • BAS

    Suggesting that everyone culturally, socio-economonically, and polictically not-connected to current gadgetry is not part of worthwhile human interconnection and maturation in ‘relating’ development?

    Not convinced. Nothing here has even attempted to convince.
    Why not?

    We speak of the gulf between fiscal ease versus fiscal crisis – but little about the gulf between those who depend on electronic connectedness v. those who operate in real time and place and the occasional phonecall, never mind those who have not even been offered the opportunity to live with basic infrastructures of hygiene, comfort and communication.

    Any conversation worthwhile? I acknowledge I am 58 years old here but must we all surrender the best of ourselves to get on board with texting and cellphone imperative re: inter-relations to get real?

    Nah. Not convinced.

  • Rennie

    What seems left out here is that much of the “desire” for cell phones and texting is manufactured by the communications industry. And the ubiquitous use of cell phones comes at a price: the loss of privacy in many cases, health risks, and a tiered rate structure the benefits the industry. Manufactured desire is a curious thing; it often creates an artificial divide between “us” and “them,” similar to what so many here are discussing: aged vs. youth, community vs. isolation, authentic vs. inauthentic communication.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Alison: ” Texting can be a great device, but can NEVER replace voice or face-to-face.”

    I’m not sure anyone in this discussion or on the show said that. It’s not zero sum, all or nothing, it’s having all sorts of communication devices at your disposal.

    I’m sure your non-verbal students (to those who don’t know, that means those without speech but not without language) would hate to lose their text based communication devices just as much as you’d hate to lose your phone or face to face time. No one is advocating that anyone lose anything, use what you like.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Rennie, since you’re commenting here, are you “us” or “them?” Isn’t this comment thread long-form texting?

  • Ellen Dibble

    alison, I am wondering what you would have asked if you called in, how you would have selected and focused one thing to ask or point out.
    Sometimes lack of eye contact or social interaction enables communication to undercut or overfly the quotidien. I think people (maybe not those who need assistance, as your students do, but most) can be oversaturated with interactivity just by breezing through an office. A few seconds can provide food for contemplation enough to last a week. Words are not necessary. But if those same people were to settle down and resolve to come to terms on this or that, well, you know what happens. A live group that can shift out of gear into productive/creative interpersonal mode, beyond rote, routine, those are groups with carefully interwoven personalities that aren’t too hierarchical, not too flat, not too emotional, not too flat, and how often does that happen face-to-face? Plenty of people strive to be noncommunicative, reserved, civil, polite, and precisely NOT “with responses that allow for the natural flow,” as you put it. For them, intonation would be more for effect than to convey affect.
    Yet such people seem even less sure of themselves by e-mail or even letter than in person. I don’t think it’s that they can’t; I think it’s a cultural style. If you want to share an emotional experience, you take the person out to a movie or to the opera. You see, it’s abstracted, distanced; you are sitting next to someone, seeing the same thing, but you have no idea what really the other is thinking. In texting, you are in touch by words, not by the seats of your pants and the arms of your chairs, maybe the toes of your shoes. Maybe everyone seeks just the right degree of separation.

  • Abel Raygoza

    I am 23 and I am trying to cut back on texting after seeing that I send about 3000 texts a month. I think that texting is ruining the way people write. More and more students are using abbreviations that are common in texting. Whenever I text I make sure I spell everything out with correct grammar, or as best as I can do.

  • rose morisoli

    was brokenhearted over lack of contact with my 25 year old daughter. was commiserating with local vet …lack of contact with his kids. he gave me the tip: when i call they never return the call….if i text them i hear back within 5 minutes. he is right and my heart feels better with texting and facebook connection

  • nick

    frankly im a little amazed by a lot of these comments. as a young person who texts i think i can explain why more people are texting. and it has nothing to do with calling or talking on the phone. texting allows you to have real conversations in real life. lets say your getting coffee and having a conversation face to face. and you get a call. cant answer it. but if you get a text you can see read it, maybe not respond, and continue your conversation. texting allows you to stay connected while in class, eating dinner, ect.

    just saying

  • http://none SAM

    I blame the land line phone companies for encouraging people to get cell phones. For example, if one has a land line from Verizon, with caller ID, voice mail, unlimited local and long distance, it can cost over
    $70 a month, unless one packages the deal with internet and TV. I think folks should CALL each other or speak in person rather than cyber texting. The cell phone, texting stuff seems geared to kids and young adults. Finally, the audio quality of the land line is still far superior to cell phones. A company should provide CHEAP land lines and I bet they would make billions, but then, who knows.

  • John

    I wish people would stop talking on their phones on public transportation.

  • Mark S.

    Nick wrote: “frankly im a little amazed by a lot of these comments. as a young person who texts i think i can explain why more people are texting. and it has nothing to do with calling or talking on the phone. texting allows you to have real conversations in real life. lets say your getting coffee and having a conversation face to face. and you get a call. cant answer it. but if you get a text you can see read it, maybe not respond, and continue your conversation. texting allows you to stay connected while in class, eating dinner, ect.

    just saying”

    Nick, I won’t even begin to check off the ways your post is indicative of what is happening to written communication thanks to the pernicious influence of “texting.” However, were I in a face-to-face conversation with someone who began texting another individual while I was in mid-sentence, the conversation would be over. I am walking away, not only due to the inherent rudeness but simply because I have no patience for this brand of juvenile, attention-deficit, multi-tasking crap.

    Oh, and please, by all means, rear-end my car at a stoplight while texting a gravitas-filled, punctuation-free message about the latest emission of “Real World” or “Jersey Shore” to your BFF. I appreciate very much that you will be buying me a new car, with my attorney’s kind assistance and involvement, of course.

  • http://www.onpointradio.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen

    Nick, I think you made some great points, whether or not you decide to buy Mark a new car…

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Mark: I won’t even begin to tell you how much you are incorrectly assuming about people who text and how texting is the reason people’s writing skills are lagging.

    I’m just not sayin’.

    For those interested, the NY Times just ran an interesting piece on group texting:


  • nick

    haha thank you sam. did you go to the waring school? because i knew someone named sam gale rosen who did…

    mark s. i see where your coming from. but it sounds as though you might be a bit bias, did you just get rear ended?, because of personal experiences. i actually loath the jersey shore and the real world, and dont even own a tv. just to invalidate all those stereotypes. however unfortunately you do strike a cord when u critiqued my posts grammar, punctuation ect. i didnt even realize those mistakes when i wrote that post. but i have to ask does it matter? do you speak conversationally like you would to a teacher or elder? or in class or at work? i think there are and should be context. i guess i felt/thought this was more IM conversation and less debate case outline?

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Nick: I think Mark’s point is that the informality of your writing: leaving out apostrophes, leaving in misspellings, is an example of what he thinks is the negative influence of texting on written communication.

    All of us who write here have hit “Submit Comment” too soon at times leaving in tell-tale mistakes that to some are a flag for lack of intelligence or lack of worldliness or lack of formal education.

    While I do think it would be a good idea for you to do a bit more editing of writing in a comment thread I don’t agree with Mark that texting as a technology leads everyone who does it to “text” everywhere. I know that you know the difference, whether or not you’ve exercised it here.

    And, many others in this very comment thread who don’t text continue to spell “a lot” “alot” which no doubt would make Mark’s head explode.

    Some technologies do influence writing styles because of character count. Texts, Tweets and IMs can’t be too long so people find creative ways to eliminate characters to squeeze in more content and make their points. However, comment threads like this one don’t generally have many technical limitations on text (# of urls are limited to 2 to fight spam) and so, bringing a texting or IM style to a comment thread is problematic if one wants to be listened to and not stereotyped.

  • Ellen Dibble

    It seems to me Sam Gale Rosen, who presumably does have power to delete offensive posts (if you click his name you’ll see why), might have been deliberating whether Mark S’s post crossed the line into ad hominem remark, ad hominem without much redemptive info or humor or the like, except maybe as a case of impressive over-reach, which is in itself comical. And at that point, he knew just what to do, point that out, highlight it. Bingo.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Ellen: I think Mark is making an interesting and important point but unfortunately his tone and rudeness have masked it. Too bad, it’s a point worth discussing in this and other related threads.

  • http://hammernews.com michael

    Great show. I’ve been in Russia, Europe, and Ukraine for 4 years and have been driven mad by idiots that just don’t answer the phone. People desperate to be friends, girls you happily chat with for an hour, will simply ignore phone calls till you erase them from your world. Texting is fine if you have a full keyboard, but it is SO slow compared to what you can say on the phone in 10 seconds. Finally after 4 years of this, just started realizing that the young do consider voice calling rude- insane. So this texting rudeness to voice isn’t just a factor of Soviet ignorance and brutality (which I thought), but is worldwide, and a result of the mobile phone, which has rotted peoples brains.

    It means that the young are almost a different species- hard wired to have a 30 second attention span and be terminally shallow. Cyberhumans who have lost the ability to have a real remote conversation with a single person, but always divide their time into 5 tasks at a time. 110 texts a day is nuts- how many hours does that take, and all crimped fragments of thoughts rather than a real conversation, with constant misinterpretation possible. And is it more polite to ignore someone and peck on phone for 2 minutes, or talk for 10 seconds. I take calls in class just to show my Eng students how it’s done- “I’m in a class-call me in an hour”, rather than just brutally hang-up on people. How do you even ask someone out in a lousy text- essential part of the whole thing was chatting and entertaining first. As a journalist, I’m no stickler for standard language- I make up new words and use novel constructions, but the utter lameness of texttalk is frankly depressing, and it has to be dumbing down all writing… and thinking.

    Michael Hammerschlag http://hammernews.com

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Michael: I’m not young, nor is the person sitting next to me here at 39,000 feet flying from LA to NY. Before we took off and they had us turn off cell phones, I texted my wife telling her I was on the plane; my neighbor texted his office telling them he was on the plane (I asked him, didn’t read over his shoulder).

    Frankly, I prefer this than hearing him talking on his cell phone and no doubt he’d rather not hear me talk on mine.

    Simple, effective, no brain rot noted yet and neither of us is drooling (heavily).

  • Ellen Dibble

    I am beginning to wish my landline offered texting. I agree, many communications can be accomplished with texting that do not interrupt activities, and thus are by definition less rude. However, the whole phenomenon seems to have contributed to my losing touch with my entire clan. I agree, they seem to think phone calls are by definition rude. They don’t pick up, don’t use caller-ID to return calls. I hesitate to leave a message because what I might have to say on day 1 would have a very different coloration on day 6. I might get an e-mail, apparently at the request of a relative, telling me please to communicate by e-mail, but then they don’t respond to e-mails. Because I never get to see these people, if they can’t communicate EXCEPT face to face, then huge space for misunderstanding develops over the decades. Then I find myself expected to show up at approximately 30 weddings from here to Malibu, weddings of people I haven’t seen in 15 years, haven’t heard from except maybe an awkward phone call a decade back — and if I don’t undertake this, ruining my credit score completely — I am considered unwilling to be part of the family quorum. I am beyond trying to figure it out.
    Once upon a time, families could coordinate, even before the age of the telephone. I’m pretty sure if I got a text address for one of these far-flung relatives, they wouldn’t waste their time responding. Why would they? I’d get the Christmas card version of relationship: bought a house, had a baby, period.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Ellen: Do you “chat” on your computer? You don’t need a cell phone to chat. Maybe sign up for and try AIM or one of the other IM networks. That’s a way to “text” without a cell phone. You can’t send an IM to a cell phone’s texting application (yet) but you can IM other folks who are on that IM network, like AIM. Or, if you have a Gmail account there’s a built-in IM app right in the web based email client. If you want to try it let me know, I’ll get you my gmail address.

    All families use this stuff differently.

    In my family we use the medium that’s appropriate and/or the other person is comfortable with or has. My 95 year old mother does email but I call her because I know that’s her preferred form of communication. My 9 year old granddaughter prefers texting and we have a running text conversation going and she thinks it’s “cute” that grandpa texts. She also uses the IM piece of Gmail and we chat every few days there too. One of my stepdaughters prefers a phone call on her iPhone, the other an email (generally dealt with on her iPhone). My wife has never liked the phone as long as I’ve known her (pre-cell phones) and still doesn’t but seems to have taken to texting so I text her, only calling her or emailing her when necessary.

    I use all of it including iChatAV, Facetime on my iPhone and now on my Mac and Skype and my contacts/friends are all over the world in many different time zones with many different communications capabilities and preferences. Having all of this stuff and being able to use it easily has led to much more communication between me and people who it would be extremely expensive to call on a landline or a cell phone and so, I communicate with them more.

    All of this has not diminished my family’s capacity to have a warm Thanksgiving here and have “analog” face to face communication without a television being on or anyone being glued to their iPhone.

    In my family, having a variety of ways to communicate has been fun and has in fact increased being in touch. We still use the phone or a visit for important stuff but having texting available is useful and adds to the mix.

    PS: My granddaughter writes amazingly well for a 9 year old, her mother would never let her get away with “text-speak” in long form writing.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Way back in the days when most of us used AOL for e-mailing, they offered IM, and I recall instant messaging with strangers about this or that. Cool. But when I suggested this to family, they wouldn’t even respond. I do have a G-mail account on a little netbook computer so it’s nice to know I can use that if anyone was willing. I have a family that straight out excludes me from vacations that are near enough for me to join, and long enough to get to know folks. The generation above was considered off bounds to us (to me, anyway), and the generation below apparently likewise. But I can recall the persistence and determination of my aunts, even as they were dying, in trying to make sure I knew they were there for me, against the headwinds, as it were. There are mysteries to the way families work. Sometimes people who are not tightly interwoven are terribly important. I suppose the parents of my nieces and nephews think, right, that is the problem.
    I recall a brother whose divorce I didn’t learn of until a couple years later when I found his phone had been disconnected.
    If I try to reach someone and fail, I get very upset, and then if I do reach someone I cry nonstop. Someday I’ll figure out my role but I think I need the time and money to travel in order to do that, which is likely never.
    Note that the advantage of this forum, using my own name, is I can always be located, without anyone saying they have done so. And in some instances I see posts that “refresh” that idea, with partial names that might be familial. They could get in touch with me without anything personal involved.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Ellen: You don’t have to use AOL to use AIM but that aside, if you want to try chatting in gmail let me know.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    ” I do have a G-mail account on a little netbook computer so it’s nice to know I can use that if anyone was willing. ”

    You can use your gmail account from any computer, just go to https://mail.google.com/ from your browser, log in, you’re there.

    Once logged in make a bookmark and set the account to keep you logged in for a few weeks.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I guess I’m worried about your putting out a gmail address here in an open thread. I’ll try what you suggest. I haven’t used “open a bookmark” but if I can do that, I will. See what happens.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Ellen: rwanderman at gmail dot com. And your address is?

  • Byron

    I’m 40, and I love txt’ing! It allows me to get a message across without all the discussion in between. And I can do it while I am doing other things. My wife and I love to txt each other through out the day. It lets us keep in touch without interupting our work day being on the phone for several minutes at a time.

  • http://mobilesand.wordpress.com Amit

    Two of the guests on OnPoint talked about how it is now considered rude to leave voicemails, and I totally agree. In a world with mobile email (and text messages), why do people leave voicemails that say, “call me”?

    I do use my phone(s) extensively to talk and meet lots of people face-to-face everyday for work, but do believe that it is better to send a txt/email to set up a quality conversation.

    • Shalandiajakson

      I thought it was rude NOT to leave a voicemail. But I don’t know.

  • Navy guy 424

    All I can say is that since no one in our family (Wife, kids, myself, etc) has texting, those that do have it, don’t call…..ever…not even return calls most of the time.  Kinda makes you wonder.  My wife even got chastised by her sister who said “if you want to talk to me get texting on your phones”.  Seriously, you can’t hear someone’s “tone” in a text and a lot can be left up to the receiver.  It does have some great aspects to it, but it’s really not “communicating” like everyone thinks.  We are losing the ability to actually interact socially by thinking we are so connected and communicating via text messages.  Like everything else in the world, it should be used in moderation.  Too much of anything is not good for you.  Yes, I am going to get texting for our phones soon, but I would still prefer to hear someone’s voice, just so you know.  Isn’t it nice to know someone took the time to actually call and talk to you.  :) 

Sep 16, 2014
Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

Sep 16, 2014
From "Rich Hill"

“Rich Hill,” a new documentary on growing up poor, now, in rural America. The dreams and the desperation.

Sep 15, 2014
This Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 file photo shows hikers on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (AP/Carson Walker)

Uproar over development plans for the Grand Canyon. We go to the Navajo Nation and the Canyon floor to see what’s at stake.

Sep 15, 2014
In this Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014 photo, Middle Eastern leaders stand together during a family photo with of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional partners at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

President Obama says he will build a coalition of partners in the Middle East to combat ISIS. We’ll do a reality check on who’s really stepping up for what.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

More »
1 Comment
Tierney Sutton Plays LIVE For On Point
Friday, Sep 5, 2014

We break out Tierney Sutton’s three beautiful live tracks from our broadcast today for your listening pleasure.

More »