We have seen a dramatic shift in the professionalism in business communications since the emergence of SMS or “texting”. More often than not, communication is initiated or responded to with little more than a few sentences consisting of short hand infused direct statements. All followed by a “sent from my device” sign off as if it were meant to be a signature. This is a trend that is creating friction between the younger generations and the business correspondence traditionalists who believe in proper etiquette (Brekke, 2011). How do we reverse the bad habits of SMS texting that are now creeping into what is considered to be formal correspondence?
The use of SMS shorthand is clearly a problem in modern communication but, it is also making its ugly face known in the World of formal education. By 2003 teachers were report the emergence of texting shorthand in the responses from students while completing tests and exams in class. One 13 year old student completed an entire essay in SMS shorthand. A complete sentence such as “My summer holidays were a complete waste of time.” was replaced with shorthand that read something like “My smmr hols wr CWOT” (Arthur, 2012). When queried as to why they used the shorthand, many students responded that it was quicker or that their hand began to hurt when required to write more so they chose the shorthand route (Martin, 2013). Could it also be a factor of laziness? That is a question that has recently come into light. Writing is an art and it is also an essential skill for communication and should not be taken lightly. A student’s future employability may be affected by their lack of formal writing skills. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2013 survey, Employers listed strong communication skills among their most highly sought after traits in job candidates (Martin, 2013).
The smart phone of today has replaced the mobile devices of the past. This shift in technology has also forced a change in the billing strategies as providers began to shift data charges to a set amount of bandwidth for a structured period of time. Why do we still see the need for shorthand if cost is no longer a pressing issue? Well, we still have the limit of 160 characters for each SMS message. The social media application called Twitter uses a 140 character maximum that forces users to compress data even further. Although, the use of texting has been shrinking over the last half-decade, there is a sharp increase in the use of SMS short hand in everyday and professional communication. How can we begin to curb the use of this growing trend? We need a strategy b4 it’s too l8!
Thanks for reading,
Arthur, C. (2012, December 3) Text messages turns 20 – but are their best years behind them?, The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/dec/02/text-messaging-turns-20
Brekke, V. (2011, July 15). I’m being short, not curt! Mobile email etiquette in flux, Social Intent. Retrieved from http://blog.socialintent.com/2011/07/mobile-email-etiquette-in-flux/
Martin, A. (2013, August 17). Texting slang creeps into student writing, The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved from http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20130817/texting-slang-creeps-into-student-writing
TED Talks: John McWhorter: Txtng is killing language. JK!!!