RT Cunningham


Text Messages, Chat Speak and Internet Slang

Samsung Galaxy S4 - text messages Text messages have become such a “thing” over the last several years, it makes me wonder if people have forgotten how to use mobile phones for their primary purpose: Voice calls. I used to consider the Philippines the text messaging capital of the world because I saw people sending text messages all the time and never saw anyone making voice calls.

The reason was simple: Text messages were costing a lot less than voice calls. Times are changing, however, because I hear (more than see) Filipinos talking on their mobile phones, even when I don’t want to hear them.

Text Messages and Chat Speak

Call it what you want, chat speak or Internet slang. Either way, it isn’t a formal language construct. I see people using chat speak where chat speak isn’t even necessary, like Skype and unlimited mobile phone plans. In places where you’re charged by the number of characters sent, it makes sense to abbreviate. In others, it makes no sense at all and I can only attribute it to laziness.

If you want a quick list of what I’m talking about, here you go:

Although everything is shown in CAPS, capitalization is optional. Also, many can be used in combinations like BCNUL8R or ROTFLMAO. Some of them are used in only certain areas of the world, like LBFM being used in the Philippines. To be honest, I can’t remember but maybe 10 of them at any given time. It must be age or something. STBM.

Text Messages, Texting and Sexting

Texting and sexting aren’t real words in any dictionary now, but I’m sure they’ll eventually be included. Texting simply means sending text messages. Sexting means sending text messages with provocative language, with or without sex-related pictures.

My younger son (Jon) bought a Samsung Galaxy S4 on family day, the day before graduating from Army boot camp. After we left, he started sending text messages to his mother (my wife, Josie) and she was having none of that.

Although Josie and I communicated for a couple of years through texting before Skype became the “thing” for us, she can no longer stand doing it that way. She has an old Samsung “non-smart” phone and it doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard like Jon’s phone has. She can’t stand pushing a button more than once for her chosen letters.

Jon has T-Mobile’s unlimited everything plan, so there isn’t a reason he can’t call his mother by voice. I think he’s just caught up doing what he used to do in the Philippines (for seven years), which is texting.

Sending Text Messages can be a Rude

I’m not talking about sending text messages when no one’s around. I’m talking about being with one or more people and ignoring them while sending text messages back and forth from someone else.

Frankly, I won’t hang around with anyone who continues to stare at a mobile phone while I’m talking to them. A few years ago, I was even told (by my younger son) not to bother him because he was texting. It was beyond rude and I responded by taking away his phone for about a month.

Text Messaging can be Dangerous

I’ve already seen more news reports than I care to remember about people paying more attention to texting than what they should be paying attention to. Driving a car and texting doesn’t mix. It’s more dangerous than talking on a mobile phone while driving, which is something else I won’t do.

In the Philippines, I’ve seen people texting while crossing the street, oblivious to the cars that have to slow down or stop because they aren’t paying attention. At least with voice calls, you don’t need to focus your attention on the phone.

The Future of Communication by Mobile Phone

I honestly can’t see how much further mobile phones can evolve. Will text messaging decrease or increase? This is one future I can’t predict at all. I certainly hope people learn that face-to-face communications, without any kind of device in between, is still the best way to engage in a conversation.

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By RT Cunningham
April 7, 2014