Text messaging in 2007

Did you read the IMing to save the world article at CNET today? It’s about Microsoft’s new "i’m" initiative, which has the company donating an undisclosed portion of Windows Live Messenger’s ad revenue to various charities every time you start a new IM (using Messenger, of course) with the word "I’m."

Now normally, a story about IM-ing wouldn’t grab my attention; despite the Sony mylo sitting beside me right now, I’m not much of an IM-er, SMS-er, MMS-er, or whatever else can sit beneath the big "text message" umbrella. But for the past week or so, I’ve been thinking about the state of texting because of these two messages I got on my Treo.

Babysms Annivsms

Neither of them was actually meant for me, as I don’t know who sent either message (and February 27th is not my anniversary with any Spanish-speaking person), but both touch upon the nature of text messaging in general.

It used to be that an announcement of the impending birth of a child and an anniversary wish were, you know, delivered personally. Maybe not literally in person but at least over the phone. Sure, the little smiley face and excessive exclamation points animate both messages, but come on! We’ve all heard about the impersonal nature of email and e-cards (I know of someone who sent out wedding invitations like this), but I had no idea the "problem" had found its way into the texting world.

I put "problem" in quotes because I haven’t quite decided whether it really is one or not. Is it? I know for a fact that my mom thinks it is. She thinks that nothing is ruder than, for example, sending a thank-you note via email. I don’t agree, but only because I’ve done it before. I don’t really know where I draw the line, though, because I would never send wedding or graduation thank-you notes over email. Birthdays and Christmas, maybe (depending on the sender, of course, as my grandmas don’t have computers). Then again, perhaps email and text messages are separate entities that should have their own set of "rules."

I’m sure this is true with just about all cells and smartphones these days, but my Treo came with QuickText templates to enable (as its name implies) quick text entry. The phrases can be edited and personalized, but here’s the default set:

  • Can’t talk right now.
  • In a meeting.
  • On a call.
  • Running late.
  • Where are you?
  • Can you talk now?
  • Call me:
  • Email me:
  • Meet me at
  • Can you pick up

These are the kinds of messages that Palm expects its users to be sending.

Anyway, I hope the intended recipients eventually got the messages that were mistakenly sent to me. Otherwise somewhere there’s a very unhappy person possibly considering a break-up and an equally unhappy couple wondering why no one has congratulated them.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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