But others are putting text messaging to good use, using the service to help people quit smoking, lose weight and encourage healthy habits.
In January 2001, Wikipedia, the free user-generated online encyclopedia, came online and quickly became the reference site of choice for Internet users.
But that was just the beginning of a new era of user-generated content.
In February 2005, the video-sharing Web site YouTube launched and rapidly became a pop culture mainstay, turning virtual nobodies, such as British singer Susan Boyle, lonelygirl15 and Obama Girl, into viral sensations.
YouTube and other social media sites also gave the average person unprecedented influence over the media. With just a cheap, handheld video camera, anyone in the world could record and broadcast political embarrassments, protests, conflicts and more.
International bloggers started telling stories swept under the rug by authoritarian regimes.
Even mainstream news outlets wanted in. Countless news sites (including this one) let readers comment on and critique the stories they read online and some even solicit stories, photos and video from breaking news events.
The user-generated movement reached such pitch that in 2006 Time magazine named "You" its Person of the Year.
"It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace," wrote Time's Lev Grossman in explaining the magazine's decision. " It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes. "
In July 2001, song-swapping service Napster shut down after record companies in the U.S. successfully sued it for copyright infringement.
But the music-sharing site that let users swap music for free set the stage for a new age of file-sharing.
According to The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which gives out the Webby Awards, Napster's collapse "opened the file-sharing floodgates. Its demise sparked a wave of innovations that forever changed how we obtain and experience music and video."
Now, instead of trekking to the record shop to buy CDs or stopping by Blockbuster to rent a video, we download and share music and video online -- from home computers or even on the go, via iPhones, BlackBerries and other smart phones.
From Hulu to iTunes, Napster led to myriad new ways to get music and video.
Status updates, following, friending… unfriending. None of that meant anything to anyone 10 years ago.
But thanks to Friendster, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the many other social networks in the ever-expanding social media universe, these are words many of us now use daily.
When Friendster launched in March 2003 it was pretty much the only game in town. In 2004, Time named it one of the 50 coolest Web sites of the year. But its reign was not to be long-lasting.
In 2004, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, a social networking site intended for college students.