Oct 10, 2007

[Mobile] The Function of Texting Clans

Flickr: LUCIUS CATALAN - Mobile Texting

When I first heard about texting clans, I was pretty surprised that people actually got into this practice - is this another strange offshoot of Filipino ingenuity? For whatever reasons they've come to be, they're here and pretty much here to stay.

Getting ahead of myself again, aren't I? Let's start from the beginning, at least as close to a beginning as we can determine...

As best as I can define it, texting clans are groups of people on the same mobile phone network (i.e. Globe, Smart, Sun) who utilize their respective unlimited texting plans (SMS) to communicate with one another. This is not just about sending individuals messages without limit for a period of time but to mass-send messages to the entire group for the duration of the unlimited texting coverage period. For some reason the term "clan" was adopted to somehow promote cameraderie or to show that they are somehow bonded together even if some members may have never seen majority of the other members in person. The Clans even have GMs that moderate things similar to MMORPG clans (which is probably a major influence in the creation of text clans).

I don't really understand the concept - it's the equivalent of mass-forwarding messages to everyone in your email address book and talk to them at the same time. Some might compare this to current micro-blogging services like Twitter, but at least there you can opt-in or opt-out of receiving certain notifications. In this case, the entire clan has your mobile number and will send you messages indiscriminantly.

Messages range in lines as simple as members being awake or what they're having for lunch and can be as complex as talking about their personal troubles - all within the 140 character limit of mobile phones. It's like a new form of poetry or something to convery so much so concisely.

What has all these people pouring so much into unlimited texting anyway? I'll present a few ideas I've come up with:

1. Companionship - Obviously this is a primary driver for this sort of thing. I've managed to find a few sites dedicated to these groups and they always talk about this being the biggest reason why these groups exist. Although, I'm not sure how much genuine bonding you can develop by telling the entire group that you've had fried fish for lunch. Oh joy. I guess the whole "clan" concept lulls you into the belief that you somehow belong to a greater whole - something essential to those lacking self-confidence and independence - by identifying with a large number of people who share something in common with you. This of course may be nothing more than the belief that you all share something in common because of this mobile connection.

2. Networking - For those who are generally timid or shy, text clans are probably a really easy way to feel like you're getting to know people without really developing any social skills you might still have. If you were to translate this activity into a face-to-face transaction, it would be the equivalent of standing in a room full of people with all of you shouting what you have to say to the rest of the group. Oh yes, I can see your number of friends increase by the minute. While I'm sure there are people who eventually get to hook up because of these groups, that normally involves sending individual messages and not group ones. Based on the experience of people that I know who get into clans, break-ups tend to turn nasty since the clan usually takes sides and soon someone's going to get voted out of the clan. It's so Reality TV-ish.

3. Money - Seriously speaking, this all has to be about money. In the same line of thinking that makes us believe that computer antivirus companies probably make their own viruses, I bet cellular networks promote these clans so hapless fool pour more and more money into maintaining their unlimited texting status. There is no permanent plan (except for Sun Cellular users) and usually the unlimited texting period lasts no more than a week or perhaps for the duration of your credit load and that's about it. Whether or not you get direct replies back, you continue to funnel money into keeping the service alive so you too can spam dozens of other people about your indecision in picking out a shirt of the day.

At the end of the day, clans can't possibly have a good reason for being. And yet they're out there and possibly your friends, siblings or even your kids are already throwing more money into the telecom providers' laps by buying into this idea in the false hope of finding friends who will never have your back in a confrontation since half the time, you won't even know what they look like in real life. How 1.0 can you get?

Photo linked from LUCIUS CATALAN's photostream.


  1. You forgot something. For some people, they join clans to look for partners.

  2. not really - re-read my descriptors for items one and two and you'll see I discussed this aspect. I just felt it didn't merit a distinct part since I really don't think it seriously works.

  3. Weird... its another way around for my group... since it has counted years since we had get-togethers, mobile communications has played a major role in reviving the group. In fairness, the group has made closer by the group messages. I agree with the the companionship aspect. here are lots of people inside the mobile networking. Choices are up for grabs, but the competition becomes stiff...