I’ve noticed some trends with texting recently and I’m not sure if I like it (that is your warning that this blog is going to be a bit of a rant). 

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve seen more and more business and personal conversations move from email to text (in addition from voice calls to text).  I assume this is for a variety of reasons:
  1. Texting is cheaper (or free) compared to a few years ago
  2. Voice dictation (via Siri) has made longer texts or text conversations more feasible
  3. People have given up on their email because it is too overwhelming
If you have a short message to relay that is somewhat time sensitive and doesn’t require a response (e.g. “Running 5 minutes late”, “Meeting went great – I think they’ll sign this week”), texting is the perfect middle ground between email and a phone call.  And, it can be fun for some banter back and forth with a friend or coworker.  It is a great way to stay in touch throughout the day with people close to you.  Sometimes this can go too far, as the attached picture illustrates.
The problem is that some people are starting to treat text as an “urgent” email inbox.  And, that just doesn’t work.   Maybe I’m being a grumpy old person now that I’m in my forties, but I see some potential problems forming.

My first gripe is with the people who excuse themselves from their email because “you should have texted.”  I’ve heard a few times recently that “so and so doesn’t read his email, so you’ll have to text him.”  I don’t expect people to be reading their email constantly, but I do think basic courtesy requires a response to email… eventually!  Using text as the “urgent email inbox” will ultimately fail because texts will become to numerous to process.  I already see this happening….
My second gripe is about the people who send texts just to get a faster response to a question that should be emailed.  This is really a gamble.  You might get a response right away, but you might never get a response.  Unlike email, there’s no easy way for the receiver to track what’s been processed.  So, if someone doesn’t respond right away, they may not respond ever (that’s me).  I do not commit to the same SLA I do with my email. 

Texting is a great tool for quick and simple communication, but in the end it is no replacement for email and those trying to use it as such will soon find there are many shortcomings.