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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
It's good to talk... by text
Sarah Hepburn
We have invited readers to submit opinion articles to the BBC Scotland news website. Sarah Hepburn, an administrator with an oil-related company in Aberdeen, considers the impact of text messaging on everyday life.


THE UPS AND DOWNS IN A WORLD OF TEXTS

Students from schools on Shetland, Orkney, Lewis and Skye have received their exam results by text as part of a voluntary pilot scheme which has so far been deemed a success.

Other schemes using SMS being introduced include parents being informed of their children's truancy by text, pupils texting incidences of bullying to teachers, members of the public texting town security with details of anti-social behaviour, and residents of a town voting on council plans reality TV-style by electronic keypad, e-mail and text.

Nokia mobile
Many verbal communications have been replaced by texts

The effectiveness of such schemes is debatable but with the Mobile Data Association announcing that Britons sent a record 26 billion texts last year, there is a clear aim to raise awareness of issues amongst our texting teenagers by making the most of a well-used tool.

From flirting with your partner and conducting illicit affairs, to splitting up with someone and getting revenge on your ex, texting has been used and abused in the field of dating and can potentially lead to serious circumstances like these.

As an avid "texter" (my service provider informs me I send an average of 43 texts a day), I know from personal experience that texting can be problematic.

Man texting
Texting is quick but it has many pitfalls

The thrill of sending a well-composed flirty text to that special someone is lost in the stomach-churning moments of waking up after a night out and realising I've been sending drunken texts to my ex.

The potential to misread the "tone" of a text, leading to text arguments, deleting unwelcome spam texts and receiving the "you're a nice girl but..." texts have also become common occurrences on my mobile phone.

But maybe the most disturbing outcome of texting is the ever decreasing ability of today's text generation to look each other in the eye and experience the pain, joy, love and hate of actually talking about the things that really matter.

Like Bob said... "It's good to talk."

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and are not endorsed by the BBC.


Your thoughts on Sarah Hepburn's article.

Texting must be a huge help for the deaf community, being able to contact another person deaf or otherwise without a third person translating must make life a little easier. My friends also all work shifts and somtimes sleep at odd hours so rather than phone and wake somebody we text. I must have sent hundreds of text that just saying "U awake?"
Sue, Sussex

I had a record night last night. Drank far too much alcopop, and sent out 14 txt messages to various feminine acquaintances resulting in four barrages of abuse, one break-up, one "I never want to speak to you again" and one particularly disgruntled mother, rejecting my somewhat ill-timed advances!
Allan, Scotland

Text messages are a useful way of keeping in touch, especially if you just have a short question for someone. But it's a nightmare if you try and have any kind of meaningful exchange. There's far too much scope for misunderstanding. A simple "How're you?" message could escalate into any number of things.
Rachel, Scotland

I've actually been so spineless as to break up with a partner by text. Realisation of what i was doing only hit me after i'd pressed 'send' and couldn't take it back. I realise it's not the medium but the user who is at fault but I do believe if the reception wasn't so patchy in the Highlands, I could have called her and passed it off as a joke. Tut tut tut. Excuses excuses eh!
Andy McKenzie, Paisley

Too busy running a home to flirt by text. Text is great for myself and partner working round our jobs and a baby - not always free to take a call. I also text the odd joke or newsflash round Ireland, Scotland and Australia regularly. It's very handy when everyone has scattered to the four winds!
John, Dublin

I would love texting if it weren't for the fact that my mates refuse to reply to text messages! Fair enough if it's just something stupid, but most of them don't reply when I actually ask a question! I just phone them now as at least they're forced to reply then.
Gregor, Glasgow

I text quite a bit, but what annoys me is when you are at work and staff members' mobile phones start beeping, they drop everything and reply straight away, then continue this throughout the working day. Surely people can wait until their breaks, lunch hour or finishing time before texting everyone.
Jill, Scotland

I think that Sarah has made some good points in her article, but I am surprised she has time to do anything in her life at all if she sends an average of 46 texts a day! I consider myself to be an average user because I send around five texts a day, maybe I need to re-think!
Eve, London

I find that 'conversation' by text is rarely a good idea. You can spend 10 minutes texting to and fro to conclude what would be a one minute voice discussion. In its place though, text is a useful tool. I'm increasingly using it to send messages to my wife who can't take calls when she's at work. Having said that, I probably only average about one text a day and can't quite fathom tarrifs offering 500 or more texts a month. They should come with a health warning about RSI!
Colin, Stirling

I don't text at all, I'm not really that interested in it, I wonder about something though watching other people furiously hitting the tiny phone keys. Tennis elbow, RSI... when is "texter's thumb" going to make an appearance?
Martin, Dundee

Diane, how can you "innocently" flick through someone's text messages? You were snooping and it suggests problems in your relationship prior to the discovery of his affair.
Pete, Scotland

There's no such thing as 'innocently' flicking through someone else's text messages! You get what you deserve if you spy on someone.
Gillian, Edinburgh

Texting also gives you the comfort of having an easy means to communicate with friends and family when you are by yourself (particularly when abroad)
Damien, Sydney

I txt way 2 much, my english has went downhill as well. Using shortened versions like "u, 2, ure, r" and ending every txt message with a "x" has become common. Kids spend way too much money on phones. 10p a txt message is too much. The phone operators can see kids are wasting their money and someone should put a stop of them charging such high rates. If you txt from abroad, it will cost something in the region of 50pence. How can 160 characters cost 50p? Get it sorted!
Alan, Glasgow

Texting is a very useful and easy form of communication, unfortunately as with many things some people are too stupid to use it properly.
Kevin, Edinburgh

There is nothing better than a lazy Sunday afternoon sending out a flirty "send to many" text message to the girls in my contacts. The same message sent out to six different "projects" asking the same question: "Hey you, how you? Fancy having some fun tonight?" then when the messages come in, you can sit back and weigh up your options. Happy days.
Ray, Dundee

Texting when drunk can be very dangerous as both myself and my boyfriend have found out recently. It is definitely better to talk!
Mike Watson, Aberdeen

I find text messages to be incredibly irritating. I have a few friends who have mobile phones and yet rarely use them unless required and yet I have other friends who are constantly texting irritating and pointless texts to and fro with people. What's the point! It just costs a stupid amount of money, is exceedingly fiddly and doesn't exactly allow scope for very deep messages. One for the dumbed down generation, give me MSN any day.
Craig MacDonald, Scotland

I text a lot, but the amount that I say differs. Text arguments can be good, because you have more time to think about what you want to say. Also, texting allows people to reply when they aren't busy and when it is convenient to them. However, text break-ups are the worst thing ever
Kirsty, Scotland

I think that texting when drunk or emotional is far more destructive than say an argument when inebriated, as in the morning there is some hard evidence of what has been said. Things taken out of context, misunderstood, or mis-communicated are commonplace. I agree wholeheartedly that it is better to talk and engage properly with someone in most situations. I send about 5-10 text messages per day and try to keep them short, to the point, and hopefully conclusive. Great mode of communication though compared to days gone by purely from a convenience point of view.
Frazer Gillespie, Inverness.

I discovered my husband was having an affair after innocently flicking through his text messages.
Diane, Scotland




SEE ALSO:
Text results services successful
09 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Frog charge drives parents crazy
15 Jul 05 |  England
Text message record smashed again
21 Jan 05 |  Technology
Warning over 'bullying by mobile'
07 Jun 05 |  Education


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