In the age of the text message, the power of the thumb has outgrown the power of the tongue. In general, young adults text more than they talk on their phones, but the speed at which text messages are entered and sent frequently leads to miscommunications—some humorous and others potentially disturbing or offensive. Indeed, texting has become so second-nature to many people that they fail to think about the pitfalls involved in communicating this way. Yet if a team is to function and grow effectively, its members must be able to communicate clearly and sometimes quickly. Certainly, text messages are quick and convenient, and the activities presented in this chapter help users understand and meet the challenges that text messaging creates.
Gossip can destroy any group. When participants start talking about one another rather than with one another, difficult times lie ahead. This activity weds the well-known telephone game with texting as your group members both text and whisper a message around the circle. The processing questions challenge participants to consider the problems and difficulties that come with texting; they also ask your group members to identify messages that they don’t believe should be communicated via text message.
Prior to the activity, choose a phrase (with fewer than 300 characters) that has meaning to your group and translate it for text messaging (for help, visit http://transl8it.com/cgi-win/index.pl). Make sure that all participants have one another’s cell phone numbers stored in their own phone’s memory.
After arranging the group in a circle, text your message to the first person (it helps to have the message already loaded into your phone). The person who received the text then whispers the message to the next person in the circle. That person must then text the message to the next person. Continue in this fashion (i.e., alternating texts and whispers) until the last person receives the message via either text or whisper. The last person then verbally shares the message with the entire group.