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Watch a brief history of texting and email in movies and TV

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Men Women And Children
Dale Robinette

In the last decade or so, as internet speeds have risen and cell phone plans have been pre-packaged to death, texting and the Web have become increasingly reliant sources of exposition in film and television. Sherlock, The Social Network, and more have used texting and the internet to tell story versus the advent of the spoken word. And just recently, texting has been used to expose philandering spouses on How to Get Away with Murder and show how bored spouses seek sexual fulfillment via the Internet in Men, Women & Children.

Technology has become an acceptable way to convey that “This mother in Men, Women & Children is overbearing,” and “This woman wants to sleep with Benedict Cumberbatch“—er, sorry—”Sherlock.”

But it wasn’t always such an effective shorthand. Earlier this year, Tony Zhou created a video explaining the trend of phones and the internet in film and TV, exploring the advent of the floating text message and how visual exposition has developed over the years. (Although it would be interesting to see how this trend is portrayed if there were a period piece regarding dial-up Internet.)