It is hard to believe, but I graduated from college 20 years ago. A few weeks ago was homecoming weekend where the celebration took place. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the festivities at Marist College or other events a few weeks earlier due some important family obligations. However, not being at these events did not prevent my former roommates, who were in Tampa Bay watching the Giants trounce the Buccaneers, from sending me text messages with a few jibes. Nothing new, late night calls and some fun answering machine messages were part of life when we were at college.
I think about how far we have come and how our lives and our business lives are so dependent on technology, especially mobile technology. With the good certainly comes the bad. I remember when the workday started at 8:00 am or if I was lucky 9:00 am and ended at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm. Now with the cell phone in tow, the day can, and often does start at 6:00 am or 6:30 am and ends after 9:00 pm. I don’t mind being in contact with people, in the public relations business this is common place, but having access at all hours of the day and night can be taxing and this brings me back to text messaging. Text messages can be 140 characters (sound familiar? This is why Twitter only allows 140 characters) but most business people who I associate with (not teens who are constantly tapping away) usually send short messages. Messages like, “running 5 min late” or “call you back in a meeting.” This is what I believe the inventors intended for this technology to be used for. However, it has evolved quickly, and recently both my college buddies and business associates have either sent me messages that I do not understand or were misinterpreted. When a misinterpretation, occurs especially with a client, it could be a real problem.
What’s the solution? First we must understand that text messages, and even e-mails can be misunderstood, misinterpreted and confusing. Keep the text chatter to a minimum; if it is important call the person. With e-mail and texting we are becoming even more disconnected. When this occurs business communications get garbled and it will lead to problems and certainly a great deal of wasted time trying to explain what a silly little message was supposed to mean.
Texting and other wireless communications do have their advantages and uses. Texting however can be dangerous. State and local governments are making it illegal to text and drive. Texting is considered a distraction while driving, if you have not noticed. National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration statistics (US DOT ) show that close to 6,000 people lost their lives as a result of being distracted while driving. This is only going to get worse in the years to come.
So if you see some idiot texting while driving or texting while crossing the street, give them a dirty look, beep at them or give them the universal hand gesture of disapproval. If you get them to stop this highly risky behavior you may be saving their lives and possibly your own.
Enough with the negative; I will be writing soon about how to integrate texting and mobile technology into your business marketing program and event promotion.