The telephone was an amazing invention. People could finally speak to each other instantly from one home to another. The mobile phone took this technology further, meaning we could make contact with people to and from almost anywhere in the world. But despite having the instant ability to talk to one another, it seems many of us prefer to communicate by text.
I don't mean we have taken up letter writing again. Although a handwritten letter has a personal touch, sending it by snail mail is too slow to satisfy our desire to keep in touch immediately. But what our smartphones now allow us to do is enable us to communicate in any number of quick, cheap but silent ways. A study in the UK a few years ago found 49 per cent of teenagers preferred to send a text rather than speak to someone.
Certainly sending an SMS, text or message via a chat app means we can compose what we want to say, and we can be more efficient in saying it – especially if we express ourselves by using emojis. It can also be quicker than having to chat with someone, although I feel you can still end up wasting time by having a full discussion by text! Text messaging also allows privacy – other people can't overhear your text if you're in a public place such as on a train.
But texting instead of talking can seem antisocial; we may even forget the art of pleasantries. A text can be misinterpreted too because you miss out on a speaker's intonation. Neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott told the BBC: "We always speak with melody and intonation to our voice… you take that channel of information out of communication, you lose another way that sense is being conveyed."
Of course texting and talking is the worst thing to do. Who deserves your attention when two people are communicating with you? It's then we have to decide who has the most interesting thing to say!