When I reached my teenage years, the words “text” and “message” were still strictly nouns. Text was contained between the pages of a book and a message was something you left on one of those answering machines with the little cassette tapes. And before all you kiddies start laughing, that wasn’t very long ago. I was in my teens little more than twenty years ago. Technology in the last two decades has advanced with breathtaking speed.
Today, those words are both nouns and verbs, and our dictionaries have changed because of cell phones. We don’t just send texts (the noun), we text people (the verb). The same holds true for messaging. The text messaging craze is a decade-old invention…or is it?
If we look back into the annals of time, we’ll come to December 3, 1992. And there we’ll see that the very first text message was sent. It wasn’t a long message – just “Merry Christmas” – and it wasn’t even sent from a phone (having originated from a PC…probably one of those high-powered 33MHz Pentium 486s that were all the rage), but its destination was a phone, and so it qualifies.
Today, text messages are sent at the rate of billions per day, and “texting” is as natural as breathing for some people. And while I still find breathing to be much easier, I send text messages now and again. I think it’s a rather cold and impersonal form of communication, but we’ve used email for years and telephones for decades, and those methods are only slightly less impersonal than true face-to-face conversation, so maybe I’ll change my thinking as time goes on.
I bet if people had to use rotary phones for text messaging, they’d just talk more.