Wednesday, February 6, 2013
So, usually I do my most interesting thinking when my mind is not working quite right. I've no doubt that this post will elucidate that concept.
We now use acronyms for a lot of our communication. The most recent variety came into popular usage due to that glorious invention that keeps me from having to verbally communicate with people if I don't want to: the text message. Let me start by saying that I am an English snob to a certain degree, and so one might think that I would abhor these recent bastardizations of my beloved language. Not so. In fact, I welcome them with open arms and open mind - one figuratively and one literally. Now, I'm not saying that these shortcuts are good for classic styles of literature. It's much too early to tell what the long-term effects of all this lol-ing will be for the traditional written word. Rather I am excited about it because I believe it represents a huge leap forward for the human race in terms of evolution. Or at least it is a harbinger of that impending leap.
Think about it: we can now compress entire thoughts into a simple 3-5 letter acronym, and almost everyone can actually decipher what the hell we're saying. Better yet, we can do much the same thing with emoticons - the modern heiroglyph. That is just the type of thing that has never been possible on this planet, at least not to our knowledge. The omnipresence of the internet and social media, and to a lesser extent, reality television, have made this widespread alteration in our means of communicating possible. We make the changes and society either adopts them or rejects them on an almost daily basis, until we have at our disposal an entirely new lexicon, and one that is more efficient than the one that took us thousands of years to arrive at. Mind you, there are great limitations to this "language." It imparts nearly no subtlety or emotion, and it is as yet too broad to be used for anything more than phrases or simple sayings. "You only live once." "In my opinion." "By the way." "Rolling on the floor laughing." Really? I doubt it. This is why I am not worried about the future of the language itself. And yet...
So many minds all converging on the same point is grounds for giant breakthroughs in many areas. The think tank now consists of billions of minds instead of a handful. Yes, there are plenty of morons contaminating the pool, but they've always been there, and they're easy to identify and quarantine, like the Baby Ruth bar in Caddyshack. Twitter managed to help start a regional revolution in the Middle East a couple of years back. That's a big deal. Some video gamers helped decode an HIV protein that had stymied researchers for 15 years... in 3 weeks. I could cite more examples, but I'm not here to offer a treatise on the effectiveness of modern technology in solving age-old problems. Maybe I'll do that in an upcoming post.
The caveat is that right now society is in danger of becoming a parody of itself, as its main source of knowledge and learning is the garbage that society itself cranks out. I see no value in learning that your famous fill in the blank is on the menu this evening, or that you broke this morning's fast yet again with your hubby, who it is your pleasure to announce that you love dearly. But once we get all that stuff sorted out and we figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff... look out! Because we are capable of great things. Really great things. Things we have heretofore not even bothered thinking about due to their seeming impossibility.
Thanks for indulging me. (insert favorite sign-off acronym here) and/or (cliché post-ending zinger to bring the whole thing together in one tidy little package)
Posted by The Third Partier at 5:12 PM