I, For One, Welcome Our New Text Messaging Overlords
By Mike Masnick, Fri Jan 07 03:30:00 GMT 2005

More people are starting to say that constant text messaging is stressing them out with information overload. Perhaps they need to stop worrying and just obey the text message.


We all know the feeling of information overload. Sometimes, it just seems like there's too much going on out there, and when it keeps on piling on, it can really drive people nuts. It's not entirely clear why a liquor company would be interested in this, but that didn't stop one from running a survey of just women in the UK and how they deal with information overload -- especially in the form of text messaging.

From the sound of things, many used the opportunity to vent their frustrations about how the constant interruptions and useless info stressed them out and prevented them from living their lives the way they wanted to. The study suggests that mobile phone users need to learn to organize their lives a bit better -- learning when to shut off their phones and to take vacations. Considering it was done by a liquor company, you assume the hope is that these breaks and vacations involve less time staring at a mobile phone screen and more at the bar drinking. All in all, the study concludes that "life simplification" is going to be a big trend over the next few years.

Along those lines, (though, entirely separate from that study) a new service is being offered to some users that certainly "simplifies" their lives in one way, without making them turn off their mobile phone. The service, called "This Mobile Will Change Your Life," sends random "tasks" in the form of SMS messages to users. The users are supposed to follow the "orders" immediately -- even though some are quite bizarre or potentially dangerous (that ought to be a fun lawsuit to follow when someone gets hurt following one of these orders). For the most part, you have to believe that this particular service is meant much more to get a laugh, then to actually get mobs of people to act outlandlishly together.

Both of these stories together, though, suggest just how much of a "slave" some people have become to their phones. The second one almost thrives on that aspect. Learning how to manage information flow has always been an important skill, but when that information flow follows you everywhere you go, every day, all day, it begins to take on a different meaning. Many of us have simply been conditioned to respond to our phone. It rings, you answer. It buzzes with a text message, you read it and reply. It's just what makes sense. However, our bodies simply aren't wired to handle this always on system all the time. Perhaps the next interesting set of applications and services we start to see will be more about organizing and managing the information flow, rather than letting it hit you in real-time. Otherwise, we're all just going to be taking orders from our mobile devices all day, every day.