Monday, May 14, 2007


Txt messaging is such a big part of the culture here--and such a big change for me--that it felt wrong to leave NZ without posting about it, and about cell phone coverage in general.

First, I should say that I can't really imagine how people used to travel without cell phones. Most of the time I've had a permanent address, but how would people have gotten in contact with me for the past three months? But cell phones here are, like most technology, about five years behind. Living in America, I am used to (1) getting a nice, free phone with a contract and (2) paying rates that allow me to pretty much talk as much as I want. I knew coming here that I probably wouldn't be able to get a contract because of my short stay and would therefore end up paying more, but I did not expect to have to (1) buy a phone that did not even come with a discount for buying a phone number at the same time and (2) pay exorbitant rates. I'm talking 20c per text and 89c per minute of phone call. That's worse than roaming in the US!

Interestingly, most people here have pre-paid cell phone plans. It seems like they're maybe spending more this way, but I've not looked into contracts, so maybe it's preferable (although you also get a coveted six-digit number (as opposed to my eight), so that might be worth it). What this means, however, is that in order to save money on texts, people abbreviate and shorten everything. First I thought it was because it was faster, but now most phones are equipped with predictive text/T9, so I find it faster to type most words that way. But no, many Kiwis actually turn off their predictive text. It's annoying. Very annoying.

Here are some examples of actual text messages I've gotten. Some, clearly, are better than others:

"Wen u b hr? It b gud f cn b fridae"
"Im in Welly bak late 2nite"
"How r u? Al gud i hope :-) Any hw drop me a txt n say hurro"
"Swt! Mite met up f nt busy"
"Happy birthday! Hope u'v hd a gr8 day& hav a gud time celebratin"
"Wea u?"
"Wot bout u? Hw ur nyt?"

What's even more annoying is that the automated texts I get from Vodafone use txt language too: "Ur $20 top up has been successful!" Really, you can't add two more letters to that?

I know texting is a big part of the Kiwi lifestyle, particularly for younger people, but I just can't get into it. I think the abbreviations make people sound stupid, and I've discovered that there are some people who I really like talking to in person, but hate talking to over txt. I guess with any form of written communication it's often hard to deduce tone, meaning, etc. but somehow it's a little easier to do it when there are vowels involved.

1 comment:

John said...

you telling me you dont like texting? Now, Im sad... in retrospect.