Monday, September 26, 2011

Pls Rd Thx

I do not send text messages to my friends. Somewhat odd for someone my age (30), I know. All of my friends rely heavily on text messaging to communicate with one another. Not me, though. Mostly because I don't have a text message plan. I have no plan to send a text message.

(I'm purposely avoiding the use of the word "text" as a verb. It just doesn't sound right to me. It reminds me of how we previously transformed the word "phone" into a verb -- "I phoned him earlier today" -- when we already had a perfectly acceptable verb to describe that action -- "call." "I called him earlier today." I can't be the only who feels this way. Disagree? Google it.)

I've explained to my friends many times that they should not, under any circumstances, shoot me a text message because I am charged 20 cents for each message I send and receive. If I were to send and receive text messages on a regular basis, it would become a very expensive habit. I understand why I have to pay money to send a text, but I do not understand why the phone company charges me to receive a text, unsolicited. It's totally unfair. The company is financially penalizing me for my involvement in a conversation I wanted no part of to begin with. This is tantamount to the city of New York charging me 20 cents every time that guy down the street from where I live hands me a flyer for the annual "Going Out Of Business!" sale at the suit shop where he works.

The cost of a text would be slightly cheaper if the phone company charged me per character, rather than a flat rate for each message. My friends, as high character as they are, are people of few characters. My friends, just like your friends and everyone else's friends, write text messages in shorthand. They write phrases like "pls," "thx," and so on. Yeah, this annoys me slightly. Not because it just doesn't sound right to me, though that is indeed the case.

No, I don't care for such text language because there's no logical explanation for why someone would use these kinds of phrases. They don't make the messages more comprehensible. They make the messages less comprehensible, to be honest.

One could argue that a texter saves time by writing "pls" instead of "please." I have my doubts. "Please" is only a one-syllable word. "Pls" leaves out a measly three letters. How much time could one really save by writing "pls" instead of "please"?

I'm glad I asked. I will get to the bottom of this issue, with the help of the stopwatch on my cellphone. (I knew it would come in handy one day.) I will time myself typing each text message expression, followed by the word it represents. Let's see how much time is saved by writing the abbreviated version. My hypothesis (my first since sixth-grade science class): The difference will be too small to accurately measure.

Test #1: "Pls" vs. "Please"

"Pls": 00.8 seconds. "Please": 1.0 seconds.

Test #2: "Thx" vs. "Thanks"

"Thx": 00.9 seconds. "Thanks": 1.1 seconds.

Test #3: "Tix" vs. "Tickets"

"Tix": 00.7 seconds. "Tickets": 1.1 seconds.

Test #4: "Deets" vs. "Details"

"Deets": 1.1 seconds. "Details": 1.0 seconds. Additional notes: I have no explanation for why it took me less time to write out the full word. In any event, I argue that anyone who writes "deets" actually has no regard for detail, because the word "details" has only one "e." The shorthand version technically should read "dets."

I'm going to expand this experiment to include quirky writing conventions I've observed in emails:

Test #5: Writing a sentence in ALL CAPS vs. writing a sentence in sentence case

"DID YOU RECEIVE MY PREVIOUS EMAIL?": 4.3 seconds. "Did you receive my previous email?" 4.4 seconds. Additional notes: Why do people type in all caps to emphasize a point? It makes NO SENSE.

Test #6: Writing an entire message in the body of an email vs. writing an entire message in the subject line of an email and leaving the body of the email blank

"Why haven't you responded to my email?": 4.8 seconds. "Why haven't you responded to my email?": 4.8 seconds. Additional notes: I won't put this to the test, but I'm positive it takes more time to write half the message in the subject line and the other half in the body (i.e., the subject line reads "Why haven't you..." and the body reads "...responded to my email?" I've never clicked on an email that contained a cliffhanger such as this one in the subject line and had a satisfying conclusion. It's usually just one big letdown that didn't live up to the hype. In conclusion, avoid clicking on emails with an ellipsis in the subject line.

The data above clearly proves that the time saved by using abbreviated versions of common words in text messages is negligible, at best. Therefore, there is no significant advantage to abbreviating your words in a text message or email. Pls keep this in mind the next time you send a txt or eml. Thx.