(CONT) I have this love/hate relationship with text messages, as I did with email when it first came out. But complaining that new forms of communication are somehow making things "worse" is such an Old-Fogey, Luddite thing to say. It's almost as bad as using the word, "Luddite." The new telecom is not in itself bad, it's merely a matter of how it's applied. Actually, with all the options, it can make traditional forms of communication more efficient and rewarding. If I were the Minister of All Communication on Earth, I would propose the following guidelines.
TEXT MESSAGES: Should be used when you are in a loud crowded environment (as I usually am) which will make attempts to talk on the phone fruitless. Can be used when you have a bad phone connection (as I usually do, you Cingular arseholes) for same reason. Absolutely should be used for little essential communications like (Are you free on such n such a date) or (What's the address), etc....where a proper conversation is not really necessary but some key bit of information has to get across. Hence, an ideal tool for the film production lifestyle, in which one is always too busy to speak or hear, but one always needs the address or the call time for something, preferably already written down within your phone. ALSO: you should be at least 100 yards away from the person.
CELL PHONE TALKING: This is the tricky one. I really believe that cell phones have destroyed any joy that was once found in phone conversations. Gone is the intimacy of knowing that both parties are in their homes, maybe curled up in bed, in a dark corner, talking out into to the ether. Now you never know if the person's driving, eating, looking for a hammer, out with their boyfriend/family, or whatnot. Cell phone talking usually feels like an interruption of your life, which it usually is; hence cell phone conversations have that quality where someone sounds like they're trying to get off the phone quickly, in order to Resume Their Day or Not Use Up Their Minutes. Or simply because it's too much work to hear the other person through the squawking and garbling that the Cingular arseholes pass off as "connection."
.....That said, cell phone talking is good for the convos that are a little more involved, but not Too involved. Since you are always struggling to hear the other person and/or at risk of losing them altogether, the practical thing is to get to the point very succinctly. I call people when I have a question and would like an answer that contains detail and nuance, two elements totally lacking from text messages. However, out of necessity, the convo becomes terse, efficient; it makes you realize how much blah-blah-blah you usually do when you're ramping up to say something.
....ALSO: Cell talk is great for finding out where people are. Unless you're in a club or a casino, in which case you should text.
....And that's pretty much all cell phones are good for, talking-wise. Most of my cell phone convos are shorter than the ringtone, or should be.
EMAIL: Email used to be the great passive-agressive way of contacting people without really contacting them, but now there are text messages for that. And, in light of the miserable quality of cells (above), email has been elevated to that medium in which you can actually express yourself, albeit one-way-only. Emails can be works of art involving pictures, music, the subtle poetry of language. However: since people do not read more than one sentence of any email that they did not themselves write, email will eventually be phased out as a form of communication, to be replaced with its more popular and exhibitionistic cousin, the Myspace Comment.
....Email used to be a good way to Get Things Done, but unfortunately the combination of the Spam Kings and the Spam Filters have sent that the way of the dodo.
LAND-LINE TALKING: This used to be a great thing (above, again) and now, well. A whole generation will never know the scandalous thrill of talking til late at night on the house phone, the other person's voice clear as Ma Bell, both of you a little afraid that the parents might pick up at any moment to check on you.
FACE-TO-FACE CONVERSATION: This is the one mode that has improved, I believe. With all the liabilties of the other methods, it seems there is a tacit understanding that personal contact is a richer experience, largely (but not solely) because there's always the underlying chance that you can jump the other person's bones. Because we now have the other methods to take care of the strictly practical ticky-tacky stuff, verbal interchange is now even riper for potential, because, whether the conversants realize it or not, it is something they have been missing for a long time.
....Still the preferred vehicle for: telling secrets, conducting important business, sizing up the other person, getting what you want, making friends, being decent.
MAIL: Should be eliminated, or at least limited to the functions of a) communicating from a tropical paradise or b) sending money.