Had some interesting conversation this evening, courtesy of an old friend (Mike Pilato of the Autumn War band days in Chicago and more recent remote composing collaboration for the soundtrack of The Fellows Hip film) and my irrepressible parents around the dinner table. The conversation wandered its way onto the topic of the current younger generation and the resilience of words.
I wonder if words are losing their importance for the younger generations, wired to their texts and tweets and the all-important speed of communication. They seem to be always waiting, nerves on edge, for that next bit or byte of communication. That next string of almost nonsensical abbreviations and shorthand that decipher into whatever is the English equivalent of “jst 8 a ckee! im so ft! lol”.
Does the modern speed of communication mean that meaning itself is really not that relevant anymore, that words are fuzzy and negotiable and, to be honest, secondary or tertiary to the act of communication (non-communciation, really) itself?
True, you have one million friends floating around out there in the winking brightness of cyberspace, but what exactly are you all saying to each other? Perhaps a modernized version of “hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?”
One of several ramifications of this, a ramification that I don’t like thinking about, is what this does to young readers and their opinions and tastes and thoughts and habits in books. Do they read Treasure Island or do they want the snappy new book full of those odd abbreviations (that an old codger like me can’t understand) and abbreviated etcetera?
When did I get so old?
At any rate, the dinner tonight ended with an experimental sugarless strawberry pie. As I am currently banned from eating such things, I did not partake. However, it apparently passed muster. Ripe strawberries, after all, do have quite a lot of sugar in them. Thankfully, for everyone of any age, you don’t need words to experience that sort of truth.