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Two decades of text messaging

Posted December. 05, 2012 01:18,   


“Honey, I’m sorry.” A woman sends her ex-boyfriend a text message at 3 a.m. after drinking. The next day, she gets a call from a man whom she does not know. He yells at her by saying, “Who the hell are you and why did you make a mess in my family?” It was too late. She had been so drunk that she sent the message to a wrong number. The man’s wife saw the message first and the couple had a big fight. The brouhaha started with a one text message and ended two days later with the man texting back, "Don’t worry. I took good care of it."

People use text messages when in a meeting, sending short messages, or expressing intent that they do not wish to speak. Now more globally popular instead of voice calling, text messaging was started Dec. 3, 1992. A young British engineer named Neil Papworth sent the first text message, “Merry Christmas,” from his PC to his friend’s cell phone. Two years later, Finland’s Nokia commercialized the service and it became the key revenue source for many mobile phone operators. Text messaging evolved into MMS messaging that can also send both images and videos.

In a cafe, many young people are often seen using their fingers without saying a word. Text messaging brought a revolutionary change to the way people meet and talk. Big and small news and contacts are made by text messaging. Even couples meet and break up via texting. One infamous case was Singer Britney Spears divorcing Kevin Federline via text message. A new condition called “text message pain” emerged as people suffered swelling in their fingers due to texting.

The campaign for Korea`s Dec. 19 presidential election is not just about street campaigning but also about “Ka-Fa-Tw” electioneering toward young voters. “Ka-Fa-Tw” stands for KakaoTalk (a mobile messenger service), Facebook and Twitter. Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party, sends texts with a video and photo to 390,000 subscribers. Moon Jae-in, her rival from the main opposition Democratic United Party, sends messages to 210,000 people every day. The traditional form of text messaging is on the decline globally as more are using free text messenger services like Korea’s KakaoTalk, which has more than 40 million users. The stronger the power of text messaging gets, the more people will miss face-to-face contact rather than communication.

Editorial Writer Koh Mi-seok (mskoh119@donga.com)