Text or Chat?

Episode 167 – Sunday, July 9th, 2017 (7495)

text or chat

In the emergent of new technology, we have now convenience to connect with someone anywhere in the world. During the old times, people needed to wait for so long to receive handwritten letters from their loved ones. Telegrams and telephones were invented, but they were so costly so that only some may afford to use these to stay connected. But thanks to the advanced technology entering 21st century, we don’t need to write on a piece of paper or to pay public phones, and instead we only need our cellphones to have communication with someone.

Having a cellphone was one of my wishes to have it when I was a teenager. It was so expensive when it came out in the market in early 2000s, so that I (and even my family) couldn’t afford to buy because I was a student back then. The cellphone load was also too costly. The minimum amount of loading a cellphone during the time was 300 pesos thru a card where we needed to scratch the hidden code to activate the load. Unlimited text and calls didn’t exist during that time so we had to save our text messaging thru short abbreviation or words that fitted 160 alphanumerical characters which was cost one peso (Php 1 per one text message, and it is still the same price up to the present). But since late 2000s, we’re now comfortable to text and to call loved ones thru unlimited text and calls which last at least one whole day. And during the time, I was so addicted to text someone especially when an unknown stranger accidentally came into my life that she would become my textmate and girlfriend.

But before these things happened, I just want to share how my text communication started, and it became my custom for more than 10 years.

Texting

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When cellphones were newly introduced into the market in early 2000s, I had no idea about these because I knew they were so expensive. During the time, Nokia was the most popular brand of cellphone, and many wanted to buy from the simplest to the most elegant such as built-in camera, colorful screens, Bluetooth, more games, etc. In 2001, my family bought a Nokia phone which was 6310i with built-in antenna (in fact, our family cellphone number is still in use until now). Most of the times, I and other elder siblings shared the lone phone for texting and playing some games such as Snakes. In 2006, my eldest sister gave her old cellphone which was Nokia 3310 to my mother, and it was also shared when I used for some school purposes. By the following year, she also gave me another one which was Nokia 3100, the smallest phone that I ever used. It was my first phone that had color screen features. On that time, I started to record the text messages that I received from my college classmates and friends. I just wrote down their text messages (not including text quotes) on my various notes such as my old high school notebooks and scratch papers to record our text conversation. In February 2008, my elder brother, who was working overseas, brought his old cellphone and gave it to me. It was Nokia 7610 where it was my first ever phone that had built-in camera. It was the only cellphone that I used for the longest time – 5 years and 9 months, and this was the phone where I started to have a textmate as well as long distance relationship (LDR).

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When I was in college, I was thinking about collecting text messages from my cellphone because I couldn’t write down all the text messages that I received manually on my notes. Around late 2008, I tried to find an installer where it could save all the inbox and outbox messages. Thus, in early 2009, I finally found a software program and installed it on my phone. I successfully saved all the text messages that I sent and received. This was the beginning of collecting text messaging from my phone in a digital form. Few years later, when android phones were came up into the market, I immediately bought the new one (thanks to my savings), and in 2013 I installed a mobile app where all the text messages are saved instantly on the easiest and most convenient way (thanks to the person who invented this app). This is the most advanced way to collect SMS without any hassle (prior of that, I used to copy and paste all the text messages from the notepad to put these in chronological order).

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This was my phone – Starmobile Crystal that I used for three long years, March 2013 to December 2016 – the second longest in usage. Late last year, I just gave it to my elder brother’s girlfriend in exchange to the phone that I’ve used right now.

That’s why I have been collecting SMS from my phone since 2009, although I had done to fix manually until 2013 when I collected all the SMS data in sorting order as well as counting the number of SMS within a day, a month, or a year. Text communication became so dominant in early 2010s especially when I had a long distance textmate who eventually became my girlfriend to have our LDR for three long years. Between 2012 and 2013, I collected more than 20,000 SMS from my phone alone, and it was remained high (at least, more than 300 SMS per month) until June 2015, the month when LDR was unexpectedly ended. After the break-up, beginning July 2015, my SMS communication was suddenly declined by almost 96%. In the past two years since post-LDR, collecting SMS data was way below the average that I had prior the break-up. Even though I had some potential textmates in 2016, it was not enough to surpass the above average. Within four years (2011-2015) when I had a textmate (turning girlfriend), my collected SMS data were averaging almost 714 SMS per month, but in the last two years since post-LDR era (after the break-up), there were only almost 78 SMS per month (down by almost 90%).

While my text messaging has been declining (and almost in extinction) over past two years, I started to use a new one to stay connected with my friends. And that is Facebook chat.

Chatting

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The difference of conversation between thru text and chat is that the former relies on cellphone with sufficient load while the latter is on the keyboard of a computer with internet connection. However, within these days, most people refer to chat on Facebook (or any social media app) thru their devices such as cellphones. In the rising of 3G and 4G internet, surfing thru phone (or tablet) is the easiest and most comfortable way to have an internet connection that we don’t need a PC or laptop. And Facebook chat is the one of the social media sites to have communication with friends and family even without a cellphone load (thanks to free mobile data).

This is not new for me actually to have an internet connection on the phone. In fact, when I had Nokia 7610, I already connected on Facebook although the connection was so slow back then, and the interface was so awful. When android phones came up, they became more advantage because of their features that they can connect to 3G or 4G internet.

Chatting is another way to stay connected with someone in real time like texting. I started to exchange chat messages when I was in the United States way back in 2004. Yahoo! Messenger was the first to be used when I had stayed connected with some of fellow Filipino exchange students who started to live in the U.S. Even when I came back home, I still used Yahoo! Messenger to communicate some of my friends here and in abroad. However, time was changed when Facebook became popular.

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I have been using this popular social networking site since November 2009 (at first, I didn’t like to use it because of the presence of Friendster, but eventually I loved to use it). I started to use Facebook Messenger with some of my friends (most of them were my former deaf friends). However, because I didn’t have internet connection at home, I usually paid internet cafés to rent a computer and barely chatted with someone thru Facebook. When I had a job in San Pedro from 2014 to 2017, I sometimes opened up my Facebook during my idle times where I looked the news feed and chatted with some of my friends online thru Messenger. Among of them were my long distance girlfriend (but we barely exchanged our chat messages because we referred SMS communication) and my good friend from Feast SM Santa Rosa Singles who started to have our chat conversation even before we met personally (but lately, I lost my appetite to have a chat with her because I felt that she has her attention to “others”).

Before, I needed to rent a computer to have a chat with my friends. But thanks to 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi, I now connect and surf internet on my cellphone especially there’s a free mobile data thru Facebook where I can explore news updates and chat with my friends even without a cellphone load.

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However, like many things to help communicating with other people, there are some advantages and disadvantages regarding these two (based on my opinion and observation):

Communication thru Text Messaging

Advantages:

  • Having strong signal everywhere (depends if a cell site is near at your location)
  • Regarding to save SMS data, it can count and save text messages (using app) thru notepad or Excel

Disadvantages:

  • Doesn’t know if a person is typing while you’re waiting for his/her response
  • Needs to have enough cellphone load (1 peso per text or register unlitext promos that sometimes they are wasted because nobody texts me)
  • Limited only 160 alphanumeric characters
  • Doesn’t have special features (GIFs, picture messages, emojis)
  • Cellphone number can be changed or unregistered on contact lists, so when I receive a text message without registered on my contacts, I usually ask, “Hu u?” – the short term for “Who (are) you?”
  • Can’t block a number of a person who bothers thru text or call (except if there’s a feature on a phone where you can block the number)

Communication thru Chat Messaging (e.g. Facebook)

Advantages:

  • Knows if a person is on-line
  • Noticing if he/she is typing for his/her reply in real time
  • It’s free, no need to have sufficient load to connect Facebook (free mobile data only)
  • Has special features (GIFs, picture messages, emojis)
  • There’s also a group chat messaging where more than two persons can read chat messages from others.
  • Can block or turn off a person that you don’t want to have a chat on him/her

Disadvantages:

  • Doesn’t have software or app to count and to save chat messages (although Facebook itself does have back-up features to save all the personal data, but it is quite confusing regarding to save chat messages including emojis and photos)
  • Weak signal in most areas that doesn’t have 3G or 4G (especially inside my house)
  • Not all of my friends always on-line on Facebook (most of them are busy in their respective works)

non-sense phone

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There are many things to stay connected with someone. When I had a happy (love) life, text communication became dominant in my life especially when I was alone. Lately, chatting became my pastime to connect with my friends only after I became single and have no girlfriend. However, in the past few months, I’ve started to lose my desire to have text and chat conversation with someone because I feel they’re too busy in their respective work and having no time to communicate with me. As of now, my life has been dull and boring because of lack of communication.

In the next episode, I will discuss about the data for both text and chat (Facebook) conversation in the past few years where I compare them in terms of frequency and usage of communication. Also, I will talk about my SMS collection in the past two years after the end of textmate (Post-LDR era).

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