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Ways of Communicating

23 November 2008 8 Comments

95757299_4892de1bd1_bI haven’t posted for a while - well ages - largely due to the fact my report is nearly due - and I have been spending every waking moment trying to put that together

But I digress…

Just in the nick of time, (the report is due next week and I am just putting the finishing touches on it now) VodafoneNZ has conducted a survey of New Zealand’s mobile phone habits… I haven’t got a copy of the actual survey findings, but here is a summary gleaned from the NZ Herald article which you can read here.

So, are we addicted to texting??? I know I’m not … but my students???!!!! The results of the survey definitely point to a social shift to which mobile phone use in general (but particularly texting) has contributed.

For those of you reading from afar, NZ has a population of just over 4 million…

New Zealanders send at least 600 million text messages a month

Calls to mobiles or text messages were the preferred way to keep in touch with friends. (73.8%)

Email 14.2% and social networking sites 4.7% were the preferred method of contact over calling someone on the landline 3.1%! (which I can agree with the only people who ring our landline are my parents and Darren’s parents… and yet we still have a landline?? I guess we need it for interweb anyway…

Although when I first met my husband (in 1999) I had a mobile (well a brick that needed to be charged every 36 hours) I don’t think texting had been invented! Therefore, I have been completely immune from having to add another complication to the whole dating/meeting people scene. However, 44.2% of people surveyed said that they had asked for a date via text! Interestingly, 20% of people had caught someone cheating through checking their text messages (is it just me or is that a lot of people cheating?) (oh and is it also just me or is it that a lot of DUMB people cheating?) Once again - I digress….

There is definitely a whole new culture being developed around the social norms to do with the way we communicate with others which I find fascinating. Things that I personally have noticed in my own use is that I use email to contact ‘contacts’ or work colleagues but social networking sites (facebook) to contact friends. I don’t like it when colleagues (who aren’t also my friends) want to join me on Facebook but interestingly I find it even more uncomfortable when friends try to follow me on the social networking sites in which I do all of my work type networking.  The two are distinct groups (although there are a few people who do cross in to both groups which is also nice!).  I think it is interesting how different online spaces seem to have such distinct unwritten rules that we follow (or that I seem to!) and because this space is all so new we are writing them as we go.

Funny little facts that seemed to keep coming through from the students I spoke to throughout the year… there was a general feeling that it was considered rude to call someone with out texting to check they were free first. Some students also talked about the awkwardness of talking on the phone and not knowing what to say or having silent pauses - texting gave them the opportunity to think about what they actually wanted to say and respond in their own time… But when asked what they actually texted about - most said they were generally texting about nothing in particular!

After somewhat of a rather chatty post, I think I have managed to find statistics AND my own personal evidence to go some way to explaining the way that technology is changing the way we communicate with each other.

Is change a bad thing? Nah … something I once read (and I can’t remember where I read it now) was the suggestion that the invention of the household freezer impacted communities and communication in the most profound way in the 20th century as no longer did people have to share food amongst the community as they had too much and had no way of keeping it, they could take care of themselves and their family’s own requirements and did not need to connect with others in the same way.

To me, while the WAY we are communicating is different, the thing that I think is so exciting is that we are communicating so much more! Via social networking sites I am talking on a weekly basis with people who I had otherwise lost touch with, through sending informal text messages you can chat to people without committing to an in-depth phone conversation which often you never get round to, and through email you can keep so many more people up to date with what you are doing through group email.

What do you think???!!!

Image by larksflem used under Creative Commons License


  • Craig Steed said:

    It’s so true, the landline rings its either your parents, someone asking for a donation to a worthy cause, or someone surveying your most valuable opinion on something. I much prefer to communicate via text with local friends, email with colleagues and chat (usually via facebook or skype) with friends around the country or overseas. Twitter is altogether different because that community for me is a new one and largely I only know people on-line, having met only a small handful. I was interested in your comments about the different groups, I totally agree how sometimes its uncomfortable when they want to cross over - its also hard to say ‘No’ I don’t want to be your friend on facebook to a colleague who asks you to be their friend…I haven’t quite worked that out yet, because how do they read that? I’ll be interested to read others thoughts.

  • Jo Fothergill said:

    I’m actually thinking about ditching my landline - my kids and i (18 + 21) all have cell phones - decent ones (2xnokia 6121; 1xmotorola razr) - we text, video call and voice call each other all the time and hardly ever use the landline - we also skype, email, twitter and im via our laptops.

    I don’t make much of a distinction with facebook - i really only use it to see what friends are up to - not a lot of chat there - although i use it more now that there is an app for the iPhone/iTouch.

  • Mel Gibb said:

    Mobile phones have come such a long way over the last 10 years. Like you Toni, I was dating my now husband in 1998. He lived in Hamilton and I was in Rotorua. Fortunately he had a mobile on a contract and would ring my mobile for a mid-week chat, I was on a pre-pay phone so only called him if it was kind of an emergency. The good old days - No Txting, No Facebook and email was almost non-existent I think I had a yahoo account but certainly did not have a work email address. Ahhh… the good old days.

    I think I must fit that “grey” area, as I have an RSS feed from your blog - it’s important to know what is happening on the cutting edge of incorporating mobile learning as I teach 21st century learners, I converse with you on Twitter and I joined your facebook…. was it a step too far following you on facebook?

    In some instances it is “too much” when you get a colleague wanting to “be a friend” and it is awkward to ignore given that you will see them in the classroom the next day. I do have a lot of overseas colleagues as friends and I like it because we know what each other get up to but don’t need to write to one another. It certainly is a grey area having colleagues as facebook friends.

  • Toni Twiss (author) said:

    I love that you are on my Facebook, Mel! I don’t like having people that I don’t know at all on my facebook, or who I work with but have NOTHING in common with outside of the fact that we work together.

  • Melissa Moore said:

    Oh so true! My husband refuses to talk on the phone, much to the confusion of my very chatty sister who often starts conversations with him only to find mid-sentence that he’s passed the phone on to me… you’d think she’d learn.

    The biggest problem I’m facing with that grey facebook area is that I’ve added colleagues that aren’t friends (not knowing how to say no), and they have added students, so I have some of my students seeing me through the “people you may know” tool on their own pages, and requesting to be my friend! I certainly don’t want to have them intrude on that private (out of school) part of my life, and also don’t want to continue the chain by having them see other teachers through my page.

  • kousuke said:

    Hi, I’m kousuke from Japan, Nice to meet you.

    In Japan, A quarter of junior high school students and high school students send more than 31 mails a day.
    I think it is a unusual case, but it maybe show us that communication using text is increasing now, as you said.

    Here is the news source about Japan.

  • Georgia said:

    I’m 13 and i am doing a speech on the disadvantages of texting. I don’t exactly agree with the topic i chose but i thought it would be easy to do because there are so many bad things that come along with texting.
    I have found it a lot less awkward to text guys especially rather than ring them or even talk in person because when you text you do avoid those horrible awkward silences and you can text things without stumbling over your words or mucking up which i never do but am forever paranoid of doing.
    Thanks your blogs been a lot of help with my research.

  • Toni Twiss (author) said:

    Wow Georgia

    Thanks so much for your comment it made my day! I am pleased my blog has helped with your speech preparation. I agree that texting does make things less awkward and you have a second chance to double check what you say before you hit send! I do sometimes find that with texting the message can get a little mixed up - like sometimes if you are having a text conversation backwards and forwards with someone then you go and do something else and don’t reply to their last text they think that they might have offended you etc. I wonder if this makes people feel really pressured to always have their phone on and to answer at any time regardless of what they are supposed to be doing???

    Thanks for your comment :)

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