It’s 30 years since the first text. Here’s how far civilization has fallen


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It’s not always easy to get a true perspective on life.

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It moves so quickly these days that we feel like it’s dragging us along.

Technology, of course, bears considerable responsibility. It’s made to make things faster. It’s made to quicken our pulses and our brain workings. It’s made to wreck life as we know it.

And so begins my sermon on the 30th anniversary of the SMS. Yes, on December 3 1992, 22-year-old software architect Neil Papworth texted his colleague Richard Jarvis some heartfelt feelings.

The text read: “Merry Christmas.”

Well, Papworth is British so, you know, don’t expect too many effusive feelings, unless they’re about Europe.

Here we are, then, 30 years later. We text, we sext and we’re so often vexed. How, though, has texting changed civilization?

Conveniently, I have before me the results of a survey performed by Infobip. This claims to be, sigh, “the world’s most connected cloud communications platform.”

Also: The iPhone 14’s satellite texting feature saved a stranded snowmobiler in Alaska

Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue and onto your keyboard?

I will tell you, however, that Infobip is a Croatian company. My closest contact there, Dario Vince, creator of the wonderful new TV series Metropolitanci, tells me Infobip is an extremely respected company in that country.

But what of the Infobip’s research into texting?

Perhaps many of the results are predictable. A mere 45.2% of Americans admit they’ve sexted. 54.8% of Americans wanted to speak to their lawyer first.

And would you believe that only 27% of millennials admit they’ve sent a text from a funeral? Funerals are quite dull really, aren’t they? Yet only 22% of Gen Z-ers and 12% of Gen X-ers admit to having done the same. A paltry 2% of boomers have kept up with this deathly trend.

But I’m most interested in human relationships. They reveal so much.

So I delved into the darker details and found myself weeping for the future of our species.

I was heartened that a mere 14% of boomers admitted they’d ever sexted. But then my heart was immediately sent in the direction of thrombosis when I learned that 45% of Gen Z-ers have been dumped by text.

Also: How to stop spam messages on your iPhone in 60 seconds

No one likes to be dumped and most people are, indeed, cowardly. But being dumped by text seems to offer that perfect mixture of cowardliness and heartlessness. Almost the very definition of Silicon Valley, you might think.

Consider, though, how hard the path to love really is these days. Everything is fine and then, with one ping of your phone, you’re thrust into despair.

This is, apparently, something only 4% of boomers have experienced. Which may begin to explain why they don’t understand young people at all.

Please don’t worry, though. I have worse for you. Much worse.

For this survey threw up — and I use the phrase advisedly — that 26% of millennials have been proposed to by text.

Yes, I said proposed to.

Yes, as in proposing marriage, that great celestial unity of two lonely beings who have finally found each other on a dating app.

I ask you now to consider what is wrong with this world. You want to find the right moment, the right atmosphere, the right method to ask your lover to marry you.

Also: Google Messages will finally let you react with emojis to iPhone texts – but there’s a catch

So you text them.

Remarkably, I can still offer hope. A mere 17% of Gen Z-ers say they’ve been proposed to by text. 

But they’re still kids, right? What if they haven’t quite grasped the loving proposal thing? What if the new, true loving proposal thing really is to text your forever feelings?

We’re done, I tell you. We’re done.

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