For many, its not the cost of text messaging service that's a problem...it's the loss of communications skills. This recent MSNBC story highlights a concern many of us (especially parents of teens) have about the texting communication craze. The story highlights the possibility of loss of traditional communication skills, use of grammar, inability to use proper sentence structure and so on. Thinking about my own experiences I'm not sure that I fully agree. I know my own writing, spelling and desire to write increased dramatically when personal computers (read: spell check) came to the commonplace . In my case, the use of technology (personal computer...in my case a TANDY notebook) made it possible for me to overcome poor handwriting and spelling. When all is said and done, the personal computer became a way for me to overcome limits and eventually produce Mitigation Journal, one of the finest niche blogs available today.
Can we say the same thing for text messaging or "texting"? I don't know, its far too early to tell. I do think that texting allows us (teens and others) to communicate with others who we'd not normally contact and share immediate thoughts. We've talked about the value of social networking sites such as Twitter (follow Mitigation Journal on Twitter) and Facebook. These sites have value in emergency service and public safety communication as well as message delivery to the public.
To put a public safety spin on it; the question that remains is one of integration. How will the "text" generation communicate with others in an official situation. Let me define that as, for example, communications face to face between paramedic and physician or paramedic and triage nurse. Although we can become concerned with issues of miscommunication or loss of data with texting and the impact of patient care, I suggest that texting posses no more threat to communication between people than poor use of grammar or body language. In fact, texting a brief EMS patient care report or fire ground situation update may improve communication. Texts are usually short and focused and contain the only the needed words to get the point made. How will we integrate texting and other social media into emergency service remains to evolve...rest assured, it will continue to evolve.
Think about the use of texting the next time you're giving a verbal report on a noisy fire ground or at a crowded triage station. Texting may be a solution to the "THEY never told me that"...phenomenon that happens to so many EMS providers.
We'll be following this one for a while.