Look anywhere these days and someone is talking or texting into a cell phone.
On the bus, on the train, in the street or standing in line at Starbucks, texters are communicating with someone else who's doing the exact same thing at the other end of the wireless line.
But not all texters are created equal. Here are the five types:
1. CEO Texters The nature of their job demands they are accessible around the clock. If their company is global, they often need to make decisions, regardless of the time. This elite group is continually wired and find it's hard to look away. The competition is not resting and neither are they. There's a reason they have reached the top of their field. When they're talking or texting, it's all business.
2. Business Texters Legitimate productive card-carrying members of Corporate America. They don't need to be on email 7x24, but they are conscientious about staying in touch. They don't overdo it (they are able to tuck their phone in their pocket when they're standing in line at Starbucks) and they know how to separate work hours with personal time. This is a level-headed group.
3. Frantic Texters This is a sick group. They may have legitimate reasons for being online, but they are often connected at unreasonable times — like texting while driving. They leave their phone at bedside and fondle their mini keyboard instead of paying attention to other things. They check email on vacation and physically walk into people while they're shooting off an email. If something happened to their phone, they would hyperventilate.
4. Casual Texters They could survive their day without walking around with email, and they use their phone judiciously. They text when they have a break. They never text while driving and treat their phone like a necessary tool to be used at necessary times. They may not respond to a text right away because they're not always monitoring their phone. Their conversations are both business and personal, and they follow cell phone etiquette.
5. Fraud Texters Unfortunately, this is probably the largest group. These are the people who most closely resemble the frantic texter, yet they have no reason to be texting. They sit on the train, scrolling through an empty in-box hoping something — anything — arrives. They text family members and friends as if they're closing a deal. They're not really working. They either have an employer who over-values them and gives them a phone or they're simply goofing off, feigning importance.
Depending on the television network, you don't know who to believe.
But who needs the networks?
As Marshall McLuhan predicted in 1967, technology has removed the barriers of time and space.
And this technology is the engine behind the passionate global online communities, sans gatekeepers.
Everyone has a voice.
Whether it's the pimply faced teen-ager basking in the dim glow of her PC in her parents' basement or a retired lobsterman struggling with an outdated operating system, an opinion is live, open and viral.
Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher and Cindy Sheehan make headlines with their physical presence, but it is the millions of bloggers and message board participants who are fanning the dialogue.
It's a brave new world and the battle for the presidency has never been so transparent.