Texting Phenomena

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Interpersonal communication is vital to humans and is used in everyday situations. “Interpersonal communication refers to face-to-face communication between people” (35), according to West and Turner (2007), authors of Introducing Communication Theories. West and Turner explain that exploring how relationships form, the upholding and continuation of these relationships, and the end of relationships, are the main characteristics of interpersonal context. Interpersonal communication began as face-to-face communication between two people, but as technology advanced, it expanded to include new communicative technologies such as telephone calls, email, instant messaging, chats, social media networks, and text messaging. Text messaging through cells phones, also known as texting or SMS (Short Message Service), is a form of interpersonal communication that can be represented through the Linear Model of Communication: A message is sent from a source to a receiver through a channel, which may be interrupted by some form of noise. Texts are person-to-person messages received from and sent to known individuals. Text messaging provides a one-to-one, personalized, and individuating social medium (Reid and Reid, 2007). The phenomena of text messaging, has researchers and scholars questioning whether this new communication technology adds or takes away from interpersonal communication and people’s learned communication skills.

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Texting as a New Phenomenon of Communication
Everyday social arrangements and interpersonal contact are now routinely affected by mobile technology (Conti-Ramsden, Durkin, and Simkin, 2010). As opposed to 15 years ago, today’s youth have a greater variety of options to choose from when communicating with their peers. “Communication, via cell phone and the internet, are now widely available and very popular with the young” (Conti-Ramsden, Durkin, and Simkin, 2010, 197). The global cell phone market now stands at approximately 1.8 billion subscribers, and is estimated to reach 3 billion by the end of 2010, by which time nearly half of all human beings on the planet are expected to own and use a cell phone (Reid and Reid, 2007). A recent survey of 2,000 teenagers in the United States revealed that 80% of teens, or approximately 17 million young people, have a cell phone. 96% of those teens use the texting function, and of that 96%, 1 out of 10 teens say that they text for 45 minutes a day (Conti-Ramsden, Durkin, and Simkin, 2010). Over 900 billion messages were sent in 2005, with expectations that this will rise to more than two trillion messages in 2010 (Deumert and Masinyana, 2008). Text messaging has become a common means of keeping in constant touch with peers, especially among young people all over the world.

The phenomenon of texting is continuing to increase, raising substantial awareness of the “new” texting language. Researchers are proposing to treat electronic communication as a distinct mode of intermediate communication, in between the oral and the written medium (Fandrych, 2007). According to Ingrid Fandrych (2007), author of Electronic Communication and Technical Terminology, “Online conversation takes place on the written level, while using specific stylistic conventions which are very similar to oral communication, especially abbreviations of frequently used phrases and emoticons to replace facial expressions” (148). Fandrych (2007) claims that acronyms, blends, and clippings are responsible for the characteristic style of Internet English, and that offline usage is increasingly influenced by Internet usage (148). Some new and creative word formations have even found their way into everyday usage including the acronyms “btw” (by the way) and “ttyl” (talk to you later), as well as the blending of certain words like “all right” into “alright.” Fandrych (2007) predicts some changes in general (“off-line”) English due to texting language as well (151)....
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