Maybe I’ve been oblivious or maybe there has been a recent inundation, but virtually every e-mail I receive ends with “sent from my (insert name of your mobile device here).” Before the majority of us had i-Phones, i-Pads, Blackberries or Droids this message may have served a purpose by demonstrating the novelty, flexibility and status of having on-the-go internet access, but now most of us have a mobile device. Last week, I e-mailed my ten year old nephew to ask him what he would like for Christmas. I received his very sweet response followed by “sent from my i-Pod.” E-mails from friends come from every conceivable mobile device currently available on the market. When receiving a text from my 70ish parents, I noticed “FMI” at the end of their message. This one stumped me. I was tempted to text back, “WTF is FMI?” but restrained myself. The next time we communicated the old-fashioned way, by phone, I asked what it meant. My dad doesn’t want people to know exactly which i-Product he is using to send his messages so he changed the tag to the more mysterious FMI. Even when people post on Facebook, it tells us if it was via a mobile device. Other than offering a viable excuse for ludicrous word choice errors caused by the auto correct feature, this ubiquitous message begs the question, “Why do I care what type of device was used to send the message I am reading?” I’m interested in the content of the message, not its method of delivery.
Perhaps those four little words are a subliminal marketing technique. Constant, subtle reminders of different devices slowly and painlessly embed themselves into my subconscious, lying dormant until my wireless contract expires. When the time comes to buy a new device, I will be inexplicably drawn to a particular smart phone or tablet. Marketing directors may intend this message as a form of technological peer pressure. If all the cool kids are sending messages from an i-Phone, I’ll have to get one too. Maybe those same marketing directors think that my friends’ choice of mobile devices will impact my next technological purchase. Sometime in the future, I may be perplexed in a wireless store and think, “I don’t know what to choose, but Friend A is really smart and savvy. Maybe I should just buy what she has.”
That simple statement at the end of a message tells me that the sender is busy, but is taking a few precious moments to keep in touch with me. Is providing me with this information meant to make me feel special? Or, will it have the opposite effect by making me feel like a loser because my friend is out in the world living a glamorously mobile life while I am chained to a desktop? If those few words tagged at the end of the message are meant to convey the excitement of someone’s life, it’s too generic. Adding information about where the message was sent from would be infinitely more interesting then knowing how it was sent. Several years ago, on a trip to Switzerland, I was on top of an Alp and texted a yodel to a friend back home. Knowing precisely where I was when I sent that text message made the experience much more fun for the recipient. She had the opportunity to share the mountaintop with me and picture herself there. Since all of these phones seem to have the capability of pinpointing our exact location on the planet at all times, surely, it would not be too difficult to add this information to the end of an e-mail or text message. Of course, if you are sending messages from an i-Product while sitting at home on your couch in your jammies, this could backfire and destroy the whole mobile mystique.
**Why do you think this message is at the end of texts and e-mails sent from mobile devices? **