from Richard Lutz
Among the clutter of weekend papers, hidden in with coverage of Cyprus, the snow, the UK budget speech, the snow, the death of a dicey Russian émigré, the Malaysian Grand Prix, the snow, there is a little gem.
It comes from the keyboard of Simon Kuper who writes trenchant stuff about how we live, how we operate.
This journalist’s remarks – and they contrast starkly with mine – is that ‘..texts, blogs, emails and Facebook posts are infecting other kinds of writing…and mostly for the good.’
His thrust is that the way we communicate is continually changing- from cave drawings to typed letter, to telephones, to the world of continual instant digi-information.
Social media, he says, is allowing everyone to write in their own way. No longer is it ‘professionals’ who tell people about the world around them. It is everybody. In their own way. It is all of us: comments, gossip, compliments, criticism, fact-telling, news events. He tells us:
‘E mail has kicked of an unprecedented expansion in writing. We’re now in the most literate age in history.’
There is no doubt that all forms of getting in touch- whether with one person or a group of people -has altered. Messages are sharper, many times clearer, more to the point, sometimes littered with so much adhoc shorthand that it can actually gt in th wy uv undstadng
Kuper, who was writing in the Financial Times, does add variables to his argument. ‘The unfiltered productions of people’s minds are often stupid. However, they don’t have to be. Nobel Prize-winning academics tweet too. You can say brilliant things even in casual conversational prose.’
Well said, but one problem, though, seems to be avoided by him.
The need to communicate creates a need to listen, a need to scan, a compulsion to receive. And with a mobile phone or IPAD (or even a creaky old laptop) at hand, there always is a way to check all the time your personal Incoming. Everyone has become a modern radio operator checking for e-signals from wherever, from whomever, about whatever.
Ironically, this creates many times , not communication, but a lack of communication. A telephone call, which once was thought distant and alienating, now seems a rarity. A landline ringing is either a cold call or an older person who still values the warmth, touch and nuance of a human voice.
Phone rings. Is it someone who knows me from a Bombay data base helping me with personal accident claims… or is it an elderly relative who wants to know how the kids are, when we will visit next, how to get in touch with an aging cousin who is ill?
Of course, I am part of the problem (or solution). This very article is massed mailed out, everyone who receives it is on a group. It is technology helping out and is without a doubt a noticeable advance from the quill and parchment.
Yes, social media is a radical turning of the comms-corner. We get in touch differently. And that creates more problems. I have to remember that Sally doesn’t pick up emails but tends to Facebook; Jim ignores his Facebook but likes texts; that Tony only takes calls off his mobile. I am about to write down a list of all I know to remember how to communicate with each of them, to tell them: wd Like 2 b in touch and sit down with them: . Qns Hd @6?????