Again, we start with a story. Got under the weather briefly last month and couldn’t go to work. I hate to be symphatised with, but when you go down, that is what you get if you are a friendly person. I tried to respond to texts, but I never picked calls. Talking burns energy and I was wondering how callers were expecting me to expend energy talking. I responded to the calls with texts.
I behave that way too when I am engrossed in creative writing. Talking at those moments could be very distractive. Creative writing is fun, like enjoying good music, to me Bob Marley’s live performance. During deep writing, (Maxim would say when the spirits are at work), calls are akin to abrupt end of a sweet song. Worse, while the song can be replayed, intrusive calls could cause the loss of incoming thoughts or even appropriate words.
Sounds strange in a society where people talk so much. You need to listen to talk shows on radio, where some contributors talk so much presenters beg to take other calls. Ali Baba’s “take another call” on his radio show is as humorous as his jokes. Comedians also crack about people who spend several minutes on the phone greeting everybody in an extended family and also pets, even trees in one’s house.
I have always been grateful to the inventor of SMS (short message service), which today has many variants, such as the popular BlackBerry and Tweets. So I was a happy man when the other day I read that texting is becoming the most popular form of inter-personal communication.
The OFCOM Report
According to the OFCOM report, texting is now more popular than phoning from both mobiles and landlines. While 58 per cent of people communicated via texts on a daily basis in 2011, only 47 per cent made a daily mobile call said the country’s communications industry regulator.
The average UK consumer now sends 50 texts per week while fewer calls are being made on both fixed and mobile phones. For the first time, there was a fall in the volume of mobile calls - by just over 1 per cent - in 2011, while landline calls were down by 10 per cent. Overall time spent on the phone fell by 5 per cent in 2011.
James Thickett, OFCOM’s director of research, said: “Talking face to face or on the phone are no longer the most common ways for us to interact with each other.”
This shift is partly down to greater ownership of internet-connected devices.
The data suggests: Some 39 per cent of adults now own a Smartphone, a 12 per cent increase on 2010. Also some 42 per cent of these now say their Smartphone is the most important device for accessing the internet, with 42 per cent regularly using social networking sites and 51 per cent using e-mail.
According to the report, 96 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds are using some form of text-based application on a daily basis to communicate with friends and family; with 90 per cent using texts and 73 per cent using social networking sites.
The numbers may not be the same, but a similar trend has been reported in other parts of the world. Reports show that Short message services are developing very rapidly throughout the world. SMS is particularly popular in Europe, Asia, United States, Australia and New Zealand and is also gaining influence in Africa. Popularity has grown to a sufficient extent that the term texting (used as a verb meaning the act of mobile phone users sending short messages back and forth) has entered the common lexicon. Young Asians consider SMS as the most popular mobile phone application
Texting has been a popular tool in the revolution in the Middle East Arab countries. In Nigeria officials of telecommunications companies I spoke with during the week confirmed increased usage of texting.
“Although the rates are much lower than phone calls, texting is important to us because it has multiple applications, which make it good business,” an official of one of the companies said.
Rotimi Taiwo’s Findings
In a paper he wrote recently, Dr Rotimi Taiwo noted that “Nigerians are compulsive text senders. Text messaging has also become popular medium for the construction of Christian values, belief systems, and sentiments in Nigeria. The thriving community of SMS users in the country has also grown into a strong force in fighting exploitation of the masses. In the business sphere, SMS is employed in banking services for notification of payments and withdrawals. Several programmes on the electronic and print media also solicit SMS from the public for counseling and feedback”.
Some people have tried to trace my love for texting to my reticent nature, but there is ample evidence to show that it eases communication. They also say its impersonal nature destroys relationships.
Taiwo’s findings contradict that. He notes: “One of the major findings of scholars on the use of SMS is that it enhances relationship formation and maintenance. Interaction through SMS has been leading to the formation of communities of users. Within these close knit groups, users of SMS who are often referred to as ‘texters’ or ‘text circles’, regularly exchange messages”.
Who is the Inventor?
Sadly, however, there seems to be no one for me to thank for SMS because of the confusion surrounding its inventor. People readily point to Matti Makkonen but the confusion persists. In the midst of rumours, in 2002, the monthly supplement of the Helsinki-based newspaper Helsingin Sanomat began to investigate the history of SMS invention. Among those interviewed was Makkonen, a graduate engineer born in Suomussalmi in 1952, who had years of experience in the creation of telephone technical standards. He described the process of how work on the innovation had progressed, but he declined specificity about the source of the concept. However several interviews later, the journalist discovered where the idea had come from. It was Makkonen himself who, a bit reluctantly, admitted to being the father of SMS.
But a Wikipedia account stretches the debate. “Matti Makkonen has been referred to in different contexts as the ‘father of text messaging’ but he rejects this epithet. ‘The SMS function is the result of extensive and open international cooperation, and GSM documents prove that it is based on the Franco-German proposal,’ he says.
“By using the pager that had become popular in the 1980s Raina Fortini realized in principle, it could include some text as well by simply turning the “beeper” upside down. By employing this concept in 1989 Fortini sent what may well have been the first text message to a friend in Melbourne Beach, Florida. Over a year’s time this was their only means of communication and so they became very creative with it
Another account has it that SMS messaging was used for the first time on December 3, 1992, when Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group (now Airwide Solutions), used a personal computer to send the text message “Merry Christmas” via the Vodafone network to the phone of Richard Jarvis.
Confusion! Well, but this one doesn’t brake bones. I may not be able to direct my gratitude to anyone in particular, but I guess I can thank texting/sms for easing communication and saving people from distraction in their key moments.
Some Top Popular Text & Chat Acronyms
1. 2moro - Tomorrow
2. 2nite - Tonight
3. BRB - Be Right Back
4. BTW - By The Way
5. B4N - Bye For Now
6. BCNU - Be Seeing You
7. BFF - Best Friends Forever
8. CYA - Cover Your Ass -or- See Ya
9. DBEYR - Don’t Believe Everything You Read
10. FUD - Fear, Uncertainty, and Disinformation
11. FWIW - For What It’s Worth
12. GR8 - Great
13. ILY - I Love You
14. IMHO - In My Humble Opinion
15. IRL - In Real Life
16. ISO - In Search Of
17. J/K - Just Kidding
18. L8R - Later
19. LMAO - Laughing My Ass Off
20. LOL - Laughing Out Loud
21. LYLAS - Love You Like A Sister
22. MHOTY - My Hat’s Off To You
23. NIMBY - Not In My Back Yard
24. NP - No Problem
25. OIC - Oh, I See
26. OMG - Oh My God
27. OT - Off Topic
28. POV - Point Of View
29. RBTL - Read Between The Lines
30. ROTFLMAO - Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Off
31. RT - Real Time
32. THX or TX or THKS - Thanks
33. SITD - Still In The Dark
34. BRB – Be Right Back
35. STBY - Sucks To Be You
36. SWAK - Sealed (or Sent) With A Kiss
37. TFH - Thread From Hell
38. RTM - Read The Manual
39. TLC - Tender Loving Care
40. TMI - Too Much Information
41. TTYL - Talk To You Later -or- Type To You Later
42. TYVM - Thank You Very Much
43. VBG - Very Big Grin
44. WYWH - Wish You Were Here
45. XOXO - Hugs and Kisses
46. IJN – In Jesus Name