I don't think getting news that your loved ones are ok after one of the biggest earthquakes in history is bullshit.
Here in Texas, I was driving back from a concert with my Cousin when she got a text from her bf in Chile about the earthquake just a minute after it ended. We were able to get "I'm ok" news from all our family living there within the first hour after the quake thanks to SMS.
Twitter started as a system where you could send an SMS that would be broadcasted to all your friends (subscribers). In fact you can still register your cellphone and use it to send updates instead of logging in. You can also set it to send you SMS every time specific people you follow posts updates.
The big earthquakes both in Chile and Japan proved SMS is a very useful form of communication in times of crisis: while voice lines got easily saturated making it almost impossible to talk to someone there, text messages kept being delivered quickly.