Did you know that the very first text message was sent in 1992? But, it took a while for it to become mainstream. In 1995, for example, the average cell phone user only sent 0.4 text messages per month. But, by the year 2000, the United States was sending close to 14 billion text messages in a year. In 2007, we marked the first year in America where text messages sent surpassed phone calls made. And, in 2010, we sent 188 billion text messages. Today, text messaging is the most widely used data-application in the world with over 80 percent of all mobile phone subscribers using it.
Now, I love text messaging; I use text messaging frequently myself. But, it comes with its own set of obstacles, doesn’t it? Part of the appeal of text messaging is that it can make an awkward situation that much less painful. I can send something as a text message, and I don’t actually have to say it to your face. But, developmental psychologists contend that pain is the point. One psychologist even comments that through text messaging “the complexity and messiness of human communication gets shortchanged. Those things are what lead to better relationships.” Our nonverbal cues are a crucial part of our communication with one another, but none of that comes through a text message. So, we have a solution to this problem: emojis or emoticons. Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about; those are the little smiley faces you can send to people. Emojis were designed to help us communicate some sort of feeling through our text messages.