Some people don’t consider SMS as a valid medium for in-depth and ongoing conversation yet I find it to be a very convenient way of keeping in touch. It is similar to chatting or IM-ing with the added bonus of being mobile and it serves as an ongoing conversation which need not be stringent in terms of attention span.

With the advent of mobile Internet connections there may seem to be less difference between SMS-ing and IM-ing but not everyone has smart phones and not everyone who has smart phones chooses to subscribe to mobile Internet, so SMS-ing is a convenient way of keeping I’m touch, provided that one has subscribed to the plan which allows for unlimited or a considerable amount of text messages.

I don’t know why I prefer SMS-ing over phone calls, IM-ing, and emailing. It might be because I enjoy an ongoing stream of short correspondences instead of longer and more intense and sometimes more intrusive phone calls. In this day and age, phone calls are not limited to the location of the phone as it was three or more decades ago and it’s not fun to hold a conversation with people around us inadvertently listening to it.

SMS-ing feels more private, more immediate, and more reliable while giving oneself the leeway of not having to be focused on the conversation when one is busy and yet being able to have the pleasure of picking up where the conversation left off when one has time to respond unlike traditional IM-ung where it is a more focused form of communication albeit in short bursts but which usually requires some form if salutation and signing off when the interaction concludes because there is the assumption that with chatting on the Internet both parties are online and able to hold a discussion for longer than when it is SMS-ing where it is assumed that the person has the mobile phone with them but not necessarily able to check or respond to the messages immediately because their attention might be focused elsewhere.

With the advent of smart phones and unlimited mobile Internet though, the lines between SMS-ing and IM-ing are being refined by apps such as Viber and Whatsapp as well has other more traditional IM-ing methods such as Yahoo messenger, MSN messenger, and Google chat, among many others.

Yet there are still a sufficient amount of people who are on the more traditional mobile phones to still make the case that SMS-ing can still be considered distinct in a manner of speaking.

There is also the sense that SMSes may serve as immediate electronic telegrams or letters depending on the length of the messages exchanged with the added advantage of the option to respond as quickly as we wish.

Yet sometimes I wonder whether preferring SMS-ing to phone calls or good old fashioned meet ups is a symptom of the detachment of the digital age where we hide behind our devices and communicate while at the same time being isolated from others. I also wonder whether it may be considered an avoidance of holding an actual voice or face-to-face conversation and would lead to one being able to express oneself better with the added advantage of being able to edit one’s message prior to sending rather than the more spontaneous and harder to edit voice and personal conversation which have the added dimensions of sound, tone, and body language to consider.

I wonder if SMS conversations add to intimacy between people or takes it away. On one hand we are able to SMS some things which we may not be comfortable saying in person and this adds to the quality of expressing oneself but on the other hand, merely hiding behind this and not venturing out and enjoying the other dimensions of communicating seems lacking and may reflect a tendency for avoiding personal or closer contact.

I have yet to come to a satisfactory conclusion to my penchant for indulging and enjoying ongoing long SMS conversations. I will yet have to make more observations and interpretations as this tendency unfolds over time.

(c) Niconica 2013

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