Death of a death site

Wd U go on a d8 w/ me?

Here’s a cool little Knight-Ridder story about how teens are using texting as a social lubricant. It’s a hell of a lot easier to ask someone out if you don’t have to do it face to face — and, apparently, a hell of a lot easier to reject them, too, with less hurt feelings all around:

They punch a pithy note onto their small cell phone keypads, add a phone number and hit “send.” A text-message reply - triumph or disaster - often arrives in 10 minutes or less.

Many girls seem to prefer that. Somehow it’s easier to deal with a text message than a surprise phone call that requires an immediate “yes” or “no” to a complex question.

“I prefer text, generally,” said Kayleigh Roberts, 15.

“Cause I’ll probably end up laughing and saying something really stupid on the phone,” she said.

Texting is the next generation gap, I think. Before I got my Hiptop, I spent the last year doing a crapload of texting on my Sprint phone. (In fact, the whole reason I got the Hiptop was that I looked at my monthly bill and realized I was doing three times as much texting as I was actually talking on my phone.)

But every time I talk about texting to my peers, they totally don’t understand it. There’s a whole litany of complaints: It’s too hard to type; the screens are too small; why wouldn’t I just use email if I want to send a message? This all reminds me of the early 90s, when my friends would wonder why I was spending so much time “on the Net”, and make similar complaints: The Net is for weird loner geeks; there’s nothing interesting on it; nobody will ever want to read things on a screen. Is there an echo in here?

The point is, adults interested in society and technology ought to pay far more attention to what young adults are doing with their toys. Young adults were the first adopters of the most popular Net-based tools, like instant messaging, MP3s, file sharing, and blogging — all of which have become utterly huge and massive trends. I usually try and avoid generational analyses, but in case of technology adoption, it’s true. Mobile devices are going to penetrate our lives in ways as powerful — and unpredictable — as the Net.

(This news item comes via Techdirt, a very cool site.)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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