Ware4 R U, Romeo?
Korean youths are said to exchange 25 text messages a day on average. As American youths are said to exchange 80 text messages daily, it seems there is no national boundary in the love for text messaging among youths worldwide. The function of helping lovers and friends communicate with each other is significant, but the problem remains that there are not-so-small side effects.
The clearest side effect is the breaking down of orthographic norms. In China, people who try to avoid hitting the keypad many times prefer to use Arabic figures that make similar sounds with the word. I love you in Chinese, wur-ei-ni, is typed as 520 (wu-eol-ling). A bit of foul language, chi-sseu-fa, or “Go chase yourself!” is replaced by 748 (chi-sseu-fa).
In English-speaking countries, numerous abbreviations have crept into usage. “U” stands for you; “lol” for laughing out loud; and “brb” means be right back. Since people have begun to use such abbreviations without hesitation, not only in daily conversations, but also on official papers such as reports and curriculum vitae, cries of worry have grown louder.
Exchanging text messages in excess can also be bad for your health. Texters not only use muscles in their thumb and neck to excess, but also suffer from such problems as want of sleep and lack of concentration. The dangerous practice of exchanging text messages while driving, which can destroy the lives of other people, has emerged as a hot issue. Even the New Oxford American Dictionary listed “intexticated,” coined after intoxicated, as one of the finalists for its “Word of the Year.”
According to a survey based on truck driving statistics carried out by Virginia Tech, the danger of being involved in a traffic accident is 23 times higher than usual if the driver is exchanging text messages while driving. That’s a much higher rate than talking on a cell phone while driving. As the number of accidents related to text messages has continued to increase, it has been suggested in the United States to introduce a system that would prevent drivers from texting or making phone calls by using GPS sensor technology, or providing the service of conveying text messages with spoken words.
According to research carried out by the University of Queensland in Australia, text messaging can be as addictive as smoking. Therefore, it is not enough to leave behind-the-wheel text messaging abstinence to the will of individual people. We should also either prohibit exchanging text messages while driving by law, or introduce a technology that can stop people from using text messages while driving. In addition, watching digital multimedia broadcasting while driving, which is no less dangerous than exchanging text messages while driving, should be stopped.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Shin Ye-ri