Have you texted anyone today? I bet most of you have, or will, depending on the time of the day you’re reading this post. Despite phone calls usually being more convenient, plus the growth of video chatting apps like iPhone’s FaceTime, text messaging seems to be holding strong, refusing to be deemed obsolete. Is it on the rise, though, has it plateaued, or maybe there is some decline after all? Bear with me as I examine the state of texting in the year 2019.
Now, to make things clear out the gate, I’ll assume texting to be any kind of a text-based exchange over any of the multitude of platforms and devices available these days. The SMS is the granddaddy of it all, but we’ve now moved way beyond it.
These days, text messaging takes place via different mobile apps, for the most part, mainly because it’s free and because of the sheer number of users applications like Messenger have. All the people you might want to text are on them anyway.
My definition of text messaging is broader yet and includes typed communication in a variety of places online. If you can interact with another person using your phone’s keyboard, that’s texting for you.
Strongholds of texting
Again, even with the rise of live streaming, vlogging, and other forms of visual content, the use of natural human languages for the purpose of online communication prevails. Their written (typed) form allows people removed from each other to engage in multi-layered interactions.
So, what are some of the places on the Internet, where texting plays a particularly important role?
Duh! Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and LinkedIn are all primarily text-based and among the most popular social networks in use. Even the essentially visual platforms like YouTube and Instagram have comments sections and direct messaging, where there’s a lot of texting going on.
Perhaps the original social media – online discussion boards – have users typing thread posts and sending direct text messages to each other. Since these sites often pander to niche interests, allowing community members to connect and express themselves, they’ll probably not disappear anytime soon.
Chat rooms combine the usually short and informal posts, the kind you’ll find on many social media platforms, with the community aspect of online forums. People engage in random, as well as structured exchanges based mainly on text.
Why’s texting popular?
The three types of platforms I just covered constitute a significant portion of the Internet. Despite the emergence and growth of other communication channels involving voice and video, they’re holding strong.
There’s a number of good reasons for why texting remains a preferred form of communication in many instances.
- Keeping the conversation private in a public setting
You may find yourself in a situation where you need to contact someone, however, sharing the details of your conversations would be uncalled-for, say, on public transportation.
- Having fun and being creative
I touched on the fun part in my post about emoji. Regular text and pictograms allow you to express yourself in ways impossible to achieve with verbal communication. This, in turn, adds flair to your digital personality and shows your individualism.
- Communicational efficiency
When texting, it’s not rude or inappropriate to get straight to the point. If you’re short on time or have strictly professional relation with someone, you can skip the small talk and get down business.
- Rich media communication
Text messaging is fine, but it doesn’t mean you have to be all-words. There’s room to include items like photos, short videos, or gif reactions to enhance and enrich the exchange.
One of the coolest things about texting is that you can hold multiple conversations at the same time or multitask and not come off as rude or not paying attention. Both, friendly and professional group chats have been a big hit in recent years.
The future of texting
Now, to crystalize my point and address the question posed in the title, I reckon texting is in its heyday and isn’t declining at all as a form of online communication.
It plays a major part in the functioning of social media, online forums, and live chats. It’s also useful, efficient, and fun in a number of contexts.
Texting has lead to certain social changes, introducing new styles of communication never seen before. We’ve also seen linguistic changes including various abbreviations, CamelCase, dropping diacritics, anglicization, and more, which will all be interesting to watch from the scientific standpoint as we move into the future.