CommonSense Blog

Millennials Unplugged – Insights into the World of Texting

By Bob Pearson | Feb 02, 2015

This is the first of a series of blog posts written by Boomers/Gen X and millennials.  In each case, we’ll look at a topic from the perspective of millennials, contrast that with the Boomer’s/Gen X perspective and figure out what the insight is to share.  Our goal is to learn from each generation.  Here are ten key insights on texting.

#1 – The crowdsourcing of social replies – if you are a boomer, you get a text and you reply to it.  Life is simple.  Millennials, however, often get a text and ask their friends for input before replying.  They crowdsource from within their friend group to navigate how to best reply in cases that require finesse.

#2 – The situation dictates the communications style – Millennials text all day long for normal topics of life.  If something is exciting, Snap Chat and texting are the most common ways to express joy.  But if the subject is serious, they will call and use the phone just like boomers.

#3 – Texting is like breathing – a boomer doesn’t know how often they speak with people at work.  You just do it hundreds of times.  No one really knows the # of conversations.  Millennials feel the same way about texting.  They text so continuously during the day that it is not meaningful to ask “how many times do you text”.

#4 – Time to embrace the new dialect – the auto correction technology in phones is making it easy to develop common slang on how to communicate more effectively.  Just like Google knows what we are typing in when we search, the same is true for phones, increasingly.  Boomers would be wise to understand this language with the same intensity we want to learn about which words drive search, since the language of text and the language of search are becoming one.  Which words drive most texting conversations and how do we all speak the same language?  Said another way, Boomers, you’ve lost this one. Technology favors Millennials.  Embrace it.

#5 – Text threads are like conversations – the people who talk a lot also text in longer threads.  The people who are succinct, don’t.  Same as normal conversations in person or on the phone.  If you are a chatterbox in real life, the phone doesn’t slow you down.

#6 – Email is used for academics and work – because boomers make them use email.  Facebook, Snap Chat and texting are the preferred ways to communicate.  It’s work that moves us to email.  And such is the circle of life in technology.  A Microsoft corporate world favors boomers.  Embrace that as well.

#7 – We extend our experience via the phone – Facebook and Instagram allow us to share our lives, but it’s never clear if your key friends will see your latest experience.  The phone allows millennials to send photos and direct their experience to the friends they want to see it.  As Facebook’s algorithm gets more selective, the importance of mobile sharing increases.  Mark Zuckerberg’s acquisition of WhatsApp looks smarter every day.  Photos, by the way, are shared most often.  Videos are only shared when the topic is serious or there is more passion involved in the topic.

#8 – Millennials don’t care about privacy – it’s not a topic of concern.  In fact, many millennials share their texts with their wider group to get more input, so even the idea of 1:1 privacy is not real.  Only boomers care about privacy right now.

#9 – Group texts are for planning – just like boomers may have 3-5 groups of friends that are slightly different, so do millennials and they reserve group texting to these friend groups. Makes sense.  Just using technology better than most boomers.

#10 – Global messaging is a breakthrough – iMessage and wi-fi have made it possible to talk with friends, old and new, anywhere in the world for free.  This is opening up the world much earlier to millennials who don’t hesitate to continue their conversations and relationships with their friends as they or their families move.  Very different than boomers who rediscover long-lost friends via Facebook or reunions.

These are our top insights on texting.  Next up, we’re going to take a deeper look at Snap Chat.

Hope you enjoy,

Brittany Pearson (millennial) and Bob Pearson (boomer)