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Year of the Chat.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Monday, 13th January 2014
 

'What are you doing?' I asked my 19-year-old god-daughter whose nose was buried in her smartphone;

She has an iPhone 4 and its screen is cracked and she complains about how slow it is. She’s looking forward to the new iPhone 5s she’s getting from her father as a reward for doing well in her first semester.
 
“Chatting,” she says.
 
And she’s group-chatting not just on one channel but across several social networks at the same time.
 
Most of her friends are on What’sapp. She’s trying to set up a group on WeChat but there’s a girlfriend who says it’s too Chinese, so she doesn’t want anything to do with it. There’s a group on Line but again, the same girl thinks it’s too Japanese. Then there’s Snapchat which seems to be taking up more of her time than Instagram.
 
But the most universal chatline that she and her friends are on is Twitter and it is there they organize their meet-ups.
 
I am amazed at the amount of time they spend chatting just to organize a meet-up for the day. At least 100 messages can go to and from before a collective decision is reached as to where to meet and when. That’s a lot of texting and I do worry about the fate of her fingers.
 
“Why don’t you just be the one to decide, say where to meet and when,” I asked her.
 
“That’s no fun,” she said.
 
“Or why don’t you just call each other and decide with one phone call?” I persisted.
 
“No one calls these days,” she said.
 
And I guess with telco providers, who are seeing their revenue streams dwindle because of these instant messaging apps, charging for phone calls, people will talk even less. In Singapore, telcos such as M1 and Starhub have adopted a one-minute minimum charge for outgoing local voice and video calls on per-second billing plans.

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