Texting has become so ubiquitous that it’s nearly impossible to imagine "dialling a phone" in order to "convey information." Still, ancient historians tell us those are the lengths people once had to go to in order to communicate. That is, of course, until the first text message was sent 25 years ago this Sunday.
Incredibly enough, the first text message ever sent was not a thirsty 2 a.m. "u up?" nor was it a passive-aggressive "k" to a feckless roommate who left the kitchen sink piled with dishes.
On December 3, 1992, British engineer Neil Papworth texted his Vodaphone colleague Richard Jarvis the simple text message, "Merry Christmas," Engadget reports. (Remember when we used to call a text message an "SMS?" Ah, simpler times.)
Like so many technological innovations, texting has been a bit of a mixed blessing over its 25-year lifespan. Yes, it’s allowed people to connect across continents and rendered the uncomfortable phone call mostly a thing of the past, but the 24/7 immediacy of texting has also been shown to increase anxiety and fear of rejection.
Old-school text messages are facing increased competition from apps like Snapchat and Whatsapp, and it’s entirely possible that the next generation of social media users will see texting as an late-aughties anachronism. Why, they won’t even have a faint memory of the iconic "IDK, my BFF Jill?" Cingular commercial!
Still, in honour of the first text message’s 25th birthday, it behooves us all to pay tribute to the golden age of texting: Let’s dig out our circa-2006 flip phones, down a few Mike’s Hard Lemonades in our parents’ basements, and engage in some good ol' fashioned "wyd"/ "nm hbu" text dialogues with our crushes.
Remember, if Ethan S. takes longer than 20 minutes to text back, he’s probably not that into you. (Or maybe his phone died?)