I was flipping through channels the other day, and saw a very odd scene on TV. It featured a teenage girl sitting on a couch and writing a letter to her best friend. What came as a shock to me was that despite the action taking place in the present day US (the show seemed very recent) she was doing it with a pen and paper. She wasn’t texting her friend, writing an email or using Facebook’s wall. She was doing it the old fashioned way. She would write it, fold the paper in half, put in an envelope and drop in a mailbox.
I found it incredibly weird. I don’t think you could find a single teenager who would do something like that today. At least not in the small town suburban America that was depicted on that show. You could probably catch some kid writing a letter to their grandma this way. I could probably imagine someone writing a sappy love letter this way – you know, to be romantically, old-fashioned or something. But a letter to a friend to let them know how you are doing? Who the hell does that.
Your friends should already know what you are up to from reading your Facebook status updates, am I right? The sad fact is that most of my student’s don’t actually even use email these days. That communication is to slow, and to indirect for them. They much prefer the burst and stream type communication provided by text messaging and social networks.
A typical teenager will broadcast their more public status updates to all their friends via their social network, and use texting for immediate real time private communication. An idea that a young, suburban mall rat would actually write snail mail letter to a friend is almost inconceivable to me. It just doesn’t happen anymore! I often rant about people are computer illiterate these days, and can’t accomplish even the simplest tasks on their machines but this is one exception. They may not know how to copy or move files on their machine. They may not know how to double space or save a word document. But if they are less than 30 years old, they WILL know how to use facebook and texting feature on their phone. You can pretty much bet your life on it.
This of course may not hold true for some environments – for example very poor neighborhoods and etc. But in suburban, middle class America almost every teenager has a Facebook account and a cell phone with an unlimited text messaging plan. Those who don’t have an unlimited plan, go over their text message limit (no matter how high it is) every month. But it seems that Hollywood didn’t notice this trend yet. Perhaps they need to update their dusty old story books or something.
Do you agree? Do you see similar trend around where you live? I live in the Tri-State region so perhaps this phenomenon is unique to the east coast metropolitan areas. Who knows…
I also have a question to my readers from other parts of the world. Seeing how US is like 100 years behind Asia and parts of Europe when it comes to cellular technology, do you also see texting becoming primary mode of communication among younger people? What is the next phase in that process? Is preference of texting and social networks over email becoming mainstream all over the world?