Considering most of Generation Y was born before the first ever text message had been sent, this technological advancement is not very old. Most new innovations are created to make every day life more efficient and that is exactly what text messaging accomplished. According to the online article, The History of Text Messaging by Articlesbase, on December 3rd, 1992 engineer Neil Papworth sent the words “Merry Christmas” through a Vodaphone network from a computer to a mobile phone (Urmann). Practicality, minimal cost, and an update to fixed phone line communication were all motivation for modern text messaging.
Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert, two engineers for the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) wanted to provide a way to send data packages or text messages from one mobile device through a digital network. In short, cell phones connect to a cell site by searching antennas in close proximity. Notifications and alerts would be sent to mobile phones, similar to the purpose of pagers, via the GSM network. SMS was not immediately successful but users eventually caught on to its functionality and the market boomed.
Snapchat, a picture messaging application, is a downloadable feature on the iPhone and Android smart phones that allow a sender to send a temporary picture to another Snapchat user. The idea began in a product design class at Stanford University by Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, two university students. Their intention was to create spontaneity and add enjoyment to the digital world.
The application features a button on the screen that snaps both pictures and videos with the option to draw on your content with your finger. Like the built-in camera already on a mobile phone, Snapchat allows you to turn the camera two ways. In order to Snapchat someone, they have to have a mobile phone that supports the application. There is an option to save the picture or video before it is sent, however, there is no option to save a photo or video that has been sent to you. For both videos and pictures, there is a ten second viewing and recording time limit; once the image has disappeared, there is no way to review the image.
The invention of Snapchat makes mobile phone communication more personable and connects its users on a deeper level than text messaging. We “snap” acquaintances we would never call because it is a convenient way to keep in touch without having to engage in long conversation. As Media Multiplexity Theory states, certain media is used for weak ties and when access to certain media is lost, it affects weak ties more than strong ties. Because both Snapchat and text messaging are less rich media than making a phone call or Skyping, they are widely used by acquaintances and can drastically affect relationships if they were to be eliminated. As an SNS group, we concluded that our social group has expanded through using Snapchat versus if we only text messaged.
Depending on the type of mobile phone one has, there is a 160-character limit because of the amount of data the message takes up (Milian, 2009). IMessage, the iPhone’s messaging system, bypasses the word count because of data network from which it travels through (Choney, 2012). Today’s mobile phones include a QWERTY keyboard, and, on smart phones, additional keyboards and languages can be downloaded for free, making texting a global affair. The option for auto correction on every message ensures proper spelling; in fact, symbols and small pictures called “Emojis” can be a substitute for typing out words and can convey the same message. With MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service, pictures, videos, and sounds can be transmitted which make text messaging more interactive (Arceneaux, Anandam, 2007). A time stamp records when a text is sent, delivered, and read, giving its users a processing timeline of their message.
Both of these smart phones are capable of sending a GPS location notification or forwarding a friend’s contact information without having to make a phone call. On the iPhone, an ellipses shows when a sender is in the process of typing so messages do not overlap. The ability to delete or save text messages on any phone is a viable feature to ensure privacy and a history log. Perhaps the most convenient invention of the last two decades, text messaging is a way to maintain relationships without ever having to talk face to face with someone. For example, as I write, I am currently text messaging a group of four friends from California. I have not seen them in person in over four months but because of iMessage, I am able to maintain contact with them and stay up to date on their lives.
Competence Media Choice says that if the message is not rich, text messaging is most appropriate. The seriousness of the content matches the informality of SMS. If I were to be making a close friend a CD and I forgot a specific song she requested, it would be more efficient for me to ask her over text messaging or Snapchat than to call her or drive to her house and ask. Unfortunately, we cannot see family or loved ones as much as we would like and truthfully, many of our acquaintances we would never actually make a phone call to; however, this is where text messaging and Snapchat thrive. They are casual enough to make your presence known but formal enough to tell someone you love them.
In the past if we wanted to talk to someone we would have to pick up the phone and give him or her a call. Voice communication over the phone, while highly beneficial to interpersonal relationships, is not always the most efficient way for us to communication with one another. We can communicate and keep in touch with more people because texting is faster than calling each individual person. According to Business Insider, “U.S. smart phone owners aged 18 to 24 send 2,022 texts per month on average — 67 texts on a daily basis — and receive another 1,831.” These numbers show texting allows us to microcoordinate our lives through a means of communication that is efficient. For example, asking your roommate to pick up some orange juice while he or she is at the store or asking a friend to lunch. These simple conversations can be more efficiently done over text messaging. Snapchat takes the same efficiency that text messaging has and uses it to transmit pictures and short videos. The app creates a richer medium in which people can efficiently communicate through. When comparing Snapchat to other forms of communication in the Media Richness Theory it would rank high on the list of forms of communication for what it is intended to transmit. Which are usually funny pictures of one’s self or surroundings with a short caption. These faster and more efficient ways of communicating keep interpersonal relationships better connected.
Texting and Snapchat are also very convenient. It allows us to send a message to someone we want to interact with at any point in time. No longer does someone have to step outside to make a phone call or arrange a time to meet and talk face to face. Texting gives us the ability to send information that we know will arrive at the receivers phone. This ability to leave a text message in someone’s possession is very convenient. On the receivers end it is also convenient because he or she does not have to immediately respond to the text message. The Hyperpersonal Model by Walther can be used to support the convenience of text messaging. According to the model people are sometimes more satisfied when they communicate via text message or any Computer- mediated Communication (CMC). It also allows people to communicate when it is convenient for them. For example, if you see an acquaintance in passing you might be forced into a conversation you would rather not have. If they text you then you have the ability to organize your thoughts and can decide whether to respond. Snapchat is also very convenient because it can show multiple people your surroundings through picture or video very quickly. Having the ability to communicate at ones own convenience benefits interpersonal relationships.
Texting and Snapchat are also very private. With face-to-face communication and voice telephone calls someone might be able to over hear a private conversation. Having the ability to text someone privately can benefit your interpersonal relationship with that person. For example, you can be in a room full of people and still maintain a private conversation with someone via text messaging. Snapchat offers even better privacy because it deletes the picture or video after a desired amount of time. So there is no trace of the message the sent or received. With technology rapidly growing, privacy is a huge benefit to our interpersonal relationships.
While texting and Snapchat are both very beneficial to interpersonal relationships they could be improved. Mistaken autocorrected texts are a huge problem when it comes to text messaging. We would like to see improved autocorrecting in the future. We would also like the ability to use “Emojis” universally on all forms of phones. For Snapchat, we do not like how you cannot select all your contacts and the amount of characters you have per message. We would like a select all button and more space to write out our messages. These are a few of the problems we have with text messaging and Snapchat.
In order to improve autocorrect, we suggest a function that simply suggests other words you could be trying to use rather than just changing the word immediately after you type it. If there was a way to have word suggestion to choose from if the phone thinks you are spelling something wrong or grammatically incorrect, than we would not have to worry about sending a text that makes no sense because autocorrect decided to change “how” to “cow” for some reason. We think it should ask before it just changes the word so you know you are spelling something wrong or are using a wrong word. Most of the time we send our messages quickly (hence the point of texting) so word suggestions will help to make less spelling mistakes but less incorrect word changes as well.
“Emojis” make texting seem way more fun than it actually is, so it is important that everyone can have access to these fun little pictures. We can add Emojis in to any text to emphasize what we are saying or simply to make them look prettier. However, this function is typically just for the iPhone. Those who do not feel like giving in to the social pressure of owning Apple products or are simply stuck in the past most likely will not receive “Emojis” on their phone if sent by an iPhone. We feel that this is unfair and that everyone should get the opportunity to enjoy the fun of “Emojis.” By creating a universal way to make “Emojis” on every phone, we can break the communication gap between iPhone users and others who are choosing different phones. These can then constantly progress over time and further advance the many components of texting.
Since Snapchat is still a very recent technology and is still developing new functions, it was more difficult to think of things that we would change about it. What came to mind was the fact that you cannot send one Snapchat photo to all of your friends at the same time. If you want to send the same photo to multiple people, you must individually click on each person’s name. This does not seem so bad, unless you have an excessive amount of friends on Snapchat. To go through and individually click on every person’s name with an upward of 30 friends would take a long time and does not really seem worth it. We suggest making a “select all” function where you can send the same photo to every one of your friends. This will be a huge advancement in the technology of Snapchat as well as help get more users to download the application.
Finally, we came to the conclusion that we would like more characters when typing captions on our Snapchat photos. Like Twitter, Snapchat only lets you use a limited amount of characters on your photo, restricting what you are trying to write. If we could write longer comments on our photos, then Snapchat would be like texting with photos, which is something that appeals to this generation. By adding at least another row of text to the typing function on the application, Snapchat could increase its users and get more people talking. This would also help develop deeper communication through an application that seems to be pretty surface level when it comes to relationship development. Overall, to advance communication, we need more characters.
Texting and Snapchat have become a daily norm for people with smart phones and a need for communication. With all the positive benefits that we receive from using these forms of media, this world has developed a phone-driven way of life. It is very uncommon meeting anyone who does not own a cell phone or does not have the ability to send text messages. What used to seem like a high-tech way to communicate has now become the new way to tell your roommates that you are going to the grocery store. It has become the common way to say good night to your parents or tell your husband you love him at work. The communication changes over the past decade have turned us in to people who are dependent on our cell phones and need to be in constant contact with others. Texting and Snapchat have started a whole new trend of communicating with others and how relationships develop from these interactions.
Arceneaux, Noah. Kavoori, Anandam. (2007). Casting a Powerful Spell: The Evolution of SMS. The Cell Phone Reade: Essays in Social Transformation. Retrieved October 25, 2013 from http://books.google.com/books?id=U8uOkAp998IC&pg=PA107&dq=Casting+a+Powerful+Spell:+The+Evolution+of+SMS&hl=en&ei=Z2dPTv-lLYmvsQLC6ODkBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Casting%20a%20Powerful%20Spell%3A%20The%20Evolution%20of%20SMS&f=false
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