Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Can Indians escape from text message hell? Can any of us?

Every morning for almost four years I have been serenaded by the sounds of annoying beeps emanating from my phone. Once started, it continued sporadically through the day and increased as it got dark. Of course you are probably familiar with the sound I’m referring to: The pinging tones of a cell phone’s short message service (otherwise known as an SMS, or text).

In my case on my phone it isn’t an urgent message from the office, friends or family (sigh): instead they are a multitude of solicitations trying to help me speak to “d” public or “increase my height” with new “Japanese technology” now available in India. Never mind those companies are marketing to the wrong person: I’m close to 6-feet tall and I speak to the public all the time as a part of my work as a correspondent.

There were many others that are too boring to mention, but suffice it to say none of them were even remotely useful. I wouldn’t take what they were offering even if it was free so there was no way they were going to find a customer in me. I counted the number of unwanted SMS solicitations for a week and it came to an average of 12 per day. That does not include the unwanted solicitation calls I get.

Now I know what you are thinking: I should just turn the sound off. But in my line of work I cannot afford to do that. Here in India, just about everyone communicates through SMS as much as they do anything else. I didn’t want to miss an important text or call from a source, so the sound stays on. But I spend too much time each day trying to delete the texts I don’t want and keep the ones I need. more