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Text Messaging Turns 20, Still Annoying [Poll]

jhaymesisvip, flickr

Short Message Service, better known as “Texting,” turned 20 years old Monday and as far as I’m concerned it’s still as annoying as ever.

The first text message sent December 3rd, 1992, when engineer Neil Papworth wrote “Merry Christmas” on his computer and sent it to Vodafone director Richard Jarvis. Since then texting has changed quite a bit: it’s gone from a full keyboard to the awkward T9, chicklet-sized keyboards, predictive swiping, and now full voice command with Apple’s Siri.

It’s also become the medium that nearly all of us use to communicate, and while I’m as guilty as the next person for using it, I think it’s fundamentally flawed and annoying. Designed to be short messages under 140 characters, texting is now how many of us hold entire conversations. And there lies the problem: it’s just text.

I’ve started more fights via texting because there is no context to the message. You can’t hear the other person’s inflection, tone, or the quality of their voice. Instead it’s just black and white text on a screen. How do you know if they’re serious? Joking? Angry? Upset? Unless they tell you, you can’t. So your emotions fill the void of their message, and in my experience that’s usually the worst thing you can do.

But why don’t we just hit the call button instead of the send button? Because with text we can send it and forget it. It’s easier. And even after all the misunderstandings, I would still rather text than call.

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