Friday, May 21, 2010

Tell Me About It!

Since there has been written word, there has been respect for it. Not too long ago in our history it was uncommon for women or children to know how to read, much less write. As we became more enlightened as a civilization, books were held in highest esteem, and grammar, spelling and punctuation were taught to every child as a prerequisite of moving up.

Business, finance, law and education split hairs to get the exact meaning of a phrase or idea to the point that the definition is twelve times longer than the word. Communication is vital, and having precision is crucial.

Enter the present. The formal need for structure and precision is still very much needed. However, socially, we have new mediums in which we communicate. We now have the internet, emails and texts. Our world will never be the same.

When the world first got email, I spent time writing out a letter like I would if I were writing a letter to mail. Soon, it was common knowledge that email was in place to make communication faster. That meant that some of our social courtesies were not necessary, and, in fact, not wanted. The idea was to get to the point, say what you had to say, and move on.

I had barely caught on to this concept when we began using text messages on pagers and then cell phones. Talk about condensing an idea! Whew! My kids can have an entire conversation in about three texts. And they only use about six letters, numbers or symbols per text!

At that point I realized, I was officially "old" in my children's eyes. It was kind of like when I was in college and asked my dad about a floppy disk and he got that "deer in headlights" look on his face. Mentally I thought, "Old." I see that look on Keith, Emma and Amy's faces, and I know what it means.

Of course, I did it to myself. If I had been smart, I would have just googled "LOL", "ROFL", "G2G" and other such phrases designed to make us move at an even more break-neck speed than email ever thought of. But, instead, I asked the kids. At first, they laughed, assuming I was being funny. Then realization sunk in that I was clueless. Then I got that look: "old."

Today, I'm happy to say I can usually figure out most text acronyms, even if I don't readily recognize them. I have also been trained in the ways of making faces out of symbols, so that if I'm being funny about something, I can include a smiley face :-) to underscore the fact. Or if I'm mad I can make a frowny face :-( to really bring home the fact that I'm very displeased.

It makes me wonder what our forefathers who labored for literally months over our Constitution would have written if they were to write it today? Would it simply say:

"Yo, Peeps! Listen up! B :-) . Don't stress. K? Peace out."

Wonder if poor Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave?

Hopefully, there will always be a place for formal writing that requires following time-honored spelling, punctuation and grammar rules. In my heart of hearts, I believe there will be.

Guess time will tell...

MommyBarbie :-)

1 comment:

Stephanie Faris said...

I came over from FB. Great blog and all too true. My neighbor, who is only a couple of years younger than I, writes all texts and e-mails in shorthand but even with that aside, he misspells every other word, sometimes deliberately, sometimes not. Today he spelled "days" as "daz" in a text, which I assumed was deliberate but I have no idea why. Is it really necessary to shorten "days" by one word? I think there will always be those who make sure to use proper grammar, even among these younger generations. It just seems to be becoming more and more politically correct to be grammatically challenged.