According to a recent Jupiter Research Study more than half of the roughly 226 million cell phone users in the U.S. texted or instant messaged regularly in 2006. That number is up from 44 percent in 2005 and is expected to surpass 60 percent by 2011. Add to that the number of people walking around with their iPods permanently adhered to their heads and there’s scarcely an opportunity, or a need, apparently, to have a face-to-face conversation anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-technology. In fact I just got a Blackberry a couple months ago. But as a professional communicator, the growing type rather than talk mindset is very troubling. Even more troubling is the fact that the rate of texting and “IM”ing is considerably higher among users under 25.
As the father of a 2-year-old this makes me wonder what conversation will be like when my daughter has children – texting “please pass the salt” at the dinner table? Passing someone on the street and IMing them a good morning? Maybe even a video text marriage proposal? Wait, I’m sure that’s already happened.
So at the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon (too late), I call for a move back to interpersonal communication. Put down your cell phone. Shake a hand, say hello and save the next generation of communicators. Now I’ve got to go, my Blackberry is buzzing.