SMS phoning

SMS phoning

SMS phoning
There's a communication phenomenon (or maybe I should just call it a trend) in the Czech Republic that is called SMS-ing. SMS stands for short message service and using the keypad of your cell phone you can send a friend with a cell phone a short text message, much like an instant e-mail.

Why don't you just call them you ask? Well, when I first got here I also asked the same question. I thought people who SMS-ed instead of phoned were cheap and lazy and I was irritated that technology was taking a step back instead of a step forward. How can writing to a person be considered a better form of communication than actually speaking to them ?

Well, 6 months later I still believe that SMS-ing is not a breakthrough technology but once I calculated my bill after a month of calling instead of SMS-ing I quickly started singing a different tune. Now I only actually call the person with whom I'm communicating when I'm rushed or it's an emergency, otherwise, an SMS usually suffices. I've started to think that SMS is a blessing in disguise. Phoning is a luxury here. In North America it is fairly cheap to call a friend. I know that in high school I would stay on the phone for hours talking with friends. But, here even land lines are paid per minute and phones are not often used for conversations but for quick exchanges of information- maybe to set a date to talk to the person face-to-face.

So, the huge benefit of this new technology is that it has forced me to meet with the people I wanted to talk to. I've quickly realised that seeing a person's facial response when I explain a problem I'm having or a dilemma I'm facing is a huge advantage. But, for many people I've noticed this is not the case. They don't just use SMS to set a time to meet someone. Many people, mostly of the younger generation, use SMS as a major mode of communication. I've heard of couples breaking up through SMS and of friends having huge arguments through SMS. On the tram you'll often see people hunched over their phones quickly tapping away messages to their family and friends.

What has happened to communication? Though SMS has forced me to communicate face-to face more, this isn't the case for everyone. So, what is going to happen to communication if advances are not advances but actually steps back. Could you imagine if the order of technology was email then SMS then phones. People would be so excited, exclaiming- can you believe I can actually talk to them in real time? Instead of what they're saying right now- which is, can you believe I can send a message for almost nothing and I can say anything I want and if it's taken to heart I just blame it on the punctuation in the SMS.

I think this SMS thing is a scam by telecommunications companies and I think there will be repercussions. Telecom companies will push it because sending an SMS takes up only seconds of air time so lines remain free. But if SMS wasn't an option people would call more and seek more competitive prices and phone companies would be forced to lower their prices. If phoning can be affordable in other nations, why can't it be so here? Nothing's going to change if people keep passively tapping away their messages, I think it's a form of escape from communicating and I have pangs of guilt that I have become a member of the SMS-ing masses.

Author: Nicole Klement
run audio