How Did We Get Here?

October 28, 2011

So I have been doing all the fun stuff, but now it is time to get real about why I started this blog in the first place. You all know this is where my true passion lies as far as communication research.  In my (not-so-distant) future I anticipate my world being over-taken by qualitative research based on the lack of inflection in text messaging.  Although the written language has always been void of inflection, technology has progressed so rapidly in the last decade that the current generation has actually rewritten the rules on “non-verbal” normalcy.

Some fifteen years ago (with the advent of the “information super-highway”) we discovered the convenience of e-mail.  Anyone could type up a letter to grandma and she received it instantaneously, even if she lived in Japan.   It was the  “elite” way to send a letter.  We learned the proper way to form a memo for your employee/employer.  Some even learned the hard way, that the proper way of sending a “Dear John” letter was absolutely NOT via e-mail.  Fast forward ten years from there and the world is introduced to two new phenomenons: social networking and text messaging.

Social networking was the new “it” thing almost overnight.  Everyone that was anyone had a “page” on one of these sights.  We now had the ability to reconnect and stay connected to our elementary buddy that moved to the Ukraine to work in the mission field.  We also discovered that this was a great way to stay in touch with our nephew fighting in Iraq.  The possibilities were endless and there was no pressure to formulate an entire, proper letter and send it via e-mail.  With our trusty mouse,  we could simply click on our page, write a quick one-liner and we were instantly connected around the globe to EVERYONE in our circle of friends (or at least the ones that were also connected).

Around the same time that social networking was in it’s booming infancy, there was a concept emerging that was unlike anything we had seen before.  It was this concept that you could type a note to almost anyone that had a phone, by simply using the letters found on our numeric keypad.  Unlike email and social networking, where the user elected whether or not they would participate in the new technology, text messages were coming to your phone even if you didn’t want them to.  And thus, here we are…We now make faces on our phones using almost every symbolic character available to us and we have literally reinvented the wheel of the written world.



  1. I remember when social networking took off. I refrained from getting an account as long as possible but all I kept hearing was facebook this or myspace that. Now I find myself checking my account daily, sometimes multiple times a day. It’s a great way to keep in touch with people you wouldn’t normally have the chance to and it’s a great way for others to check in on you. But I’ve found myself using it as the only form of communication at times and your relationships will lose a lot of the substance they need if you do that. Don’t forget to actually go see your friends or family and maybe even call them once in a while!

  2. I totally agree. My brother lives in Hong Kong right now and I could because of the time difference it was hard to be able to communicate with him. Though email would still work, sending him a text message to his phone is much faster and I would get a reply back just as fast.

  3. Coming from a younger generation that grew up learning how to send e-mails in primary school, participate in social networks in elementary school, and texting by the time I reached middle school, I have watched the industry grow and improve. However, users may not have improved in their grammar use. Although electronic communication became easier and more convenient, it shouldn’t allow users to communicate less effectively.

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