F.Y.I. … T.T.Y.L.
(For Your Information I’ll Talk To You Later)
FREQUENT UPDATES: Pick either an acquaintance you don't know that well or a parent. In a 24 hour period dramatically increase the amount of information you send this person using a text-based mobile communication technology that you know they can receive (likeIM on your phone, text/SMS, or e-mail on your phone/PDA). For example, you could communicate with them every time you do anything ("hi I am getting on the bus", "arrived in class," "class is boring," "having lunch," "talking with friend.") Describe the reactions.
I decided to constantly text one of my parents on everything I was doing on Monday. The first text I sent to my parent was “Hey! I just woke up and I still have a paper to finish by 12pm!” and she responded back “Well finish it then!”. I think my parent thought nothing of my text and just responded back as she would if I texted her anything else at any other time. She probably acted normal because it was only my first text.
But as the day continued I started texting my parent more frequently and with useless information such as, “brushing my teeth”, “walking to my computer science class”, “doing homework”, etc. She started off just with polite comments like “that’s nice” or “good to know”, but as I sent her more texts with increasingly useless information I could tell she was getting really annoyed, and finally after around my twentieth random text she texted me “Ok…You never text me this much EVER…What’s going on?!” and I responded, “Nothing, just wanted to keep you informed on what I’m doing”. Obviously she didn’t believe me and called me and asked me the same question.
I figured since it was basically the end of the day and I got a wide range of reactions from my parent I would explain to her why I sent her an immense amount of text messages in one day about meaningless stuff. After I explained my strange behavior and that I was doing it for a class about social norms, she said she “never realized” that there’s such a thing as keeping someone TOO updated on their daily lives.
After talking to my parent about my experiment once it was over, we started talking about social norms, and even talked about telephonic norms. After much thought I realized that some social norms are linked to the telephone/cell phone. When someone asks you what you did today, you usually stick to the most important stuff and keep it as vague as possibly. It’s not common for a person to answer that question with a list of every little thing they did from waking up at 8:46am to brushing teeth twice, or from to putting on my red Nike tennis shoes to going to my communication class in the Animal Science Laboratory at 12pm. Unless it’s a really close friends or family member, people rarely give out information that is detailed or meaningless.
I noticed the phone itself also comes with social norms. People usually say some sort of greeting when they answer the phone, such as "hello?" or "hey, what's up?". In addition, people also say some sort of farewell when they are ending a phone conversation with words such as "bye" or "i'll talk to later". Where you place the phone when you are talking on the phone involves social norms because you need to place the speaker by your ear and the receiver by your mouth in order to communicate on the phone successfully. The volume at which you talk on the phone is also a social norm. You can't really whisper when you're on the phone because the person you're talking to won't hear you, and you can't talk too loud or people around you will start staring at you because you're talking on the phone at a volume louder than "normal".
When it comes to the phone, the amount of information shared while talking on the phone is about the same as talking in person, but I feel with texting the information must be brief and even less informative. The conversations that occur over text get less intimate and are unfortunately more common today. The popularity of texting has decreased the personal contact between people and made conversations less emotional and harder to decipher moods. Will technology one day become such a prominent communication tool that it will make face-to-face communication obsolete?