The Lost Art of Communication

Maybe if we work at it, we can make language a complete impediment to understanding. – Hobbes (as in Calvin and Hobbes)

I used to complain that email was doing unforgivable things to the English language. Acronyms (and not always common ones) replaced actual words. No one felt the need to punctuate. And AutoCorrect caused more than its share of havoc.

Now, of course, email is passé. Everyone texts on the go, which means no one has a full-size proper keyboard or time to write more than a few words. It’s common to send a one-word or even a one-emoticon text. (I actually take the time to type OK in my texts rather than just K, but I realize I’m a dinosaur.)

Sure, we all learned the acronyms, and we all use the shortcuts. But I think Hobbes was on to something.

And there’s a related problem: because it is so easy to share information instantly, it is far too easy to share without thinking about it.

We’ve all seen those embarrassing photos and status updates on Facebook from people who don’t seem to understand that the beer-swilling party shot may come back to haunt them when they apply for a job, or that the rant against their ex-boyfriend may find its way to unfriendly ears. I’ve read intimate details about people I’ve never heard of, simply because they are a friend of a friend of a friend of mine online.

This blog also suffers from the must-share-something syndrome. I’ve often felt the need to post something, anything, just to show that I’m still here. Never mind that I don’t have anything to say. I just start typing, and hit Publish when I can’t think of anything else to add. And I don’t think I’m the only one.

Maybe we’d be better off if there was a mandatory waiting period like there is in some places when you want to buy a gun. If people could just take a day or two to think before sharing with the world, they might decide it’s not really worth it. Or they might take the time to craft a clearer message.

And now to hit Publish…

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