[FORUM]he warm glow of a text messageCell phone text messages are changing the way human beings communicate. Just a few days ago, they played a central role in high school students’ protests against the new college admissions system, coordinating their demonstration plans.
The Chinese seem to have learned about the usefulness of text messaging from us. They used it quite effectively in their recent protests against Japan. Then, when citizens started planning a large-scale demonstration in commemoration of the historic May 4, 1919 protests against Japan, Chinese security forces used text messaging to control the populace, by sending out mass notifications that such a protest would be against the law. Text messages are like magic. They can be sent en masse, and are received instantly.
Text messages will contribute greatly to the welfare of the human race. Some governments and organizations have already started text-messaging services that notify people about natural disasters, changes in the ozone layer and food poisoning cases. There are services that use text messages to give people the results of their civil service applications, or details about their travel reservations. There is even a service that sends warnings to diabetes patients.
The professional soccer team in Ulsan sends messages such as, “We have a soccer match tonight. Please come. From Yoo Sang-chul.” Using the names of such famous players is a way to try to get people to come watch the game.
Spam text messages were a problem in the past, but they have dropped significantly since a maximum penalty of 30 million won ($30,000) went into effect on April 1.
The results of a recent survey by the advertising agency Cheil Communications, about the younger generation’s use of text messages, are encouraging. According to the survey, younger people are pursuing unexpectedly “warm human relationships” through cell phones and the Internet.
Apparently, people 25 and older tend to think of the digital world as simply an assemblage of cold technology. But unlike the older generation, 13-to-24-year-olds use the digital world to create a culture, a community in which they can share affection and their feelings. The younger generation is more positive. Hurray to that, I say.
Many people expected digital technology to promote individualism, but matched with the unique characteristics of Koreans, it has become a sea of emotion. Text messages, comments posted on other people’s personal Web sites, responses to those posts ―these are playing a big role in establishing sentimental contact between individuals.
The Cheil Communications survey found that students between the ages of 16 and 18 send an average of 42 text messages per day. They feel a sense of excitement and warmth in sending and receiving one-on-one text messages.
The 1324 generation (that is, 13-to-24-year-olds) views people who use cell phones more for talking than for text messaging as primitive people. They are more interested in communicating through text messages, which are more confidential. Things felt deeply, which can be hard to say aloud, can sometimes be said more easily in a text message. And there is more freedom in text messaging, because you do not have to reply right away, or reply at all, if you don’t want to.
Many people have been emotionally moved by text messages. One man communicated so well with his new daughter-in-law through text messages that his son got jealous. An estranged mother-in-law and daughter-in-law reconciled with each other after one short text message. A high school girl sent a text message that touched a lonely newcomer to her school.
There are many such cases. The actress Moon Geun-young, who is known for her big heart, once confessed that the best moment in her life was when her quiet, inexpressive father sent her a text message one day saying, “I love you, my daughter. Cheer up.”
May is a month for families, what with Parents’ Day, Children’s Day and Teacher’s Day. Send a warm text message to someone you know, right now. A ripple of warm emotion will spread over the entire Korean Peninsula. Use text messages to spread some magic in May!
They say that text messages cost telecommunications providers almost nothing to send. Some civic organizations are starting a movement to get the companies to stop charging for them, since they have made so much money from them over the years. I cheer them on.
* The writer is the JoongAng Ilbo’s deputy managing editor in charge of digital news.
by Kim Il