The sms factor


When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, little did he realize that in the future it would be more of a bane than a boon! Communication in those days were much more simplified and had a very personal touch. We could hear expressions, intonations and feelings in the voice on the other side of the line. Then came along the mobile phones. Yes, it was much more convenient. We could be reached anywhere and everywhere, well almost! This in itself was the start to the invasion of privacy. The thought of being reachable so easily meant that we could receive a call even when we are in the loo! We could be out with someone but yet have the mobile phone glued to our ears, on the line with someone else and totally ignoring the person we are with.

Somewhere along the line, a bright spark decided to invent the short messaging system(sms) and marketed the idea to the tel-co companies. Now, here was a way to make big bucks! Yes it is cheaper to use the sms compared to a full length conversation, and believe me, if you calculate the amount you spend on sms a month, it far outweigh your normal phone rates! However, what we failed to realize was that sending sms was like looking at an image in two dimensions rather than three dimensional.

A text message lacks the emotions and intonations required to fully carry a message across. Well, this is helpful if you get angry smses but what if you are trying to clear the air over a matter or highlight an issue? We can so easily misunderstand the message that a person is trying to convey if we read the text in the message. There is no indication of feeling or emotion, and very frequently, what is meant to be a joke is often mistaken for an insult. Now there is no faster way to start an ugly issue with such misunderstanding, and you will have to spend the next 10 text messages explaining that it was a joke! See how the telecommunication companies make money!

Not too far back, you would hear advertisements discouraging the use of hand phones while driving and you are encouraged to use a hands free device. Nowadays you hear advertisements discouraging the use of sms while driving! Definitely no hands free kit for this unless sms is voice activated. Yes, I myself have been guilty of texting while driving as sometimes the message requires such urgent attention. I am just lucky I have not smashed into another car while doing it, otherwise I would have violated a very serious law on the road! It just goes to show that the trend has changed so much in the way we communicate to one another.

It is not an uncommon sight to see a person sitting alone smiling to themselves or with an angry, happy or even a quizzical expression written all over their face while starring at their handphones! Any other time before now, we would have been given a “look at that nutcase” stare from passers by. It is so much the norm now that if you do not do it, there must be something wrong with you or you have very llittle friends, family etc.

Even my parents, in their mid-seventies had to learn how to use the text function. Why? Because other people send them text messages and they did not know how to retrieve it and send back a reply! Much like our wallets, carrying the mobile phone is a must. Without it we feel that something is missing from our lives. We receive calls and messages constantly on the go. It is amazing how easy it is to even have a divorce using the sms service! Don’t feel like talking on the phone? Send a message! Yet better still, the message can be saved as prove that the request was made at such a time and date!

It is also the most productive source of newly coined words in any language. As the feature name suggest “sms-short messaging system” we can coin short words faster than can be compiled into a dictionary. No wonder we get so many misunderstandings! This sms habit also carries over into our daily written functions. We tend to replace full words with short forms, making our proficiency in languages take a big step backwards rather than forwards!

I guess we will always use technology to our best individual advantage. Good or bad, it depends on how we use it. Technology is but a tool, there is nothing like the personal touch. I know they now have MMS to try to make texting more impressionable or even stickers with emotions, does it really work? Or is this just another gimick to get us hooked more to our mobile phones. Oh and don’t forget, there is no better way to broadcast anything faster and wider than using sms, you can even have dating services using this feature! Truly amazing, or is it really?…….


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