COMMUNICATION IN A DIGITAL WORLDPosted: October 19, 2008 | |
Do people really talk to each other anymore? If I want my fourteen year old son’s attention, I text him. His fingers fly over the tiny keys faster than my own whiz across a keyboard. He doesn’t talk to his friends on the phone, instead choosing to communicate in silent spurts of abbreviations and acronyms.
With all of these substandard forms of writing floating around, the rules of grammar, punctuation, and even the meanings of words have blurred. In emails, forums, groups, and text messages, miscommunication is common. The reader cannot see or hear the writer. They cannot hear tone or inflection. They cannot see facial expressions or body language. All the reader can see are the letters arranged to create a semblance of understandable communication through words, acronyms, or abbreviations. If the reader isn’t familiar with the writer’s code, then the letters are merely that. Letters arranged without any meaning.
For authors, our goal is to paint the entire picture for the reader. We lay out the scene so the reader can see the characters and the locations and hear what is happening at the time. Our letters must be arranged carefully into comprehensive words, structured sentences, and complete thoughts.
Can you imagine the books of the future? I will translate for you in parenthesis.
“AY?” BG (“Hi, how are you?” Sally asked with a big grin.)
“0 U?” J (“Nothing, what’s up with you?” Mary replied, smiling)
“0 WAYD?”(“Nothing,” Sally replied, “What are you doing?)
“Broke up w/bf” L (“I broke up with my boyfriend.” Mary’s voice was sad.)
“Sry” (“I’m sorry”)
“NBD” (Mary shrugged. “No big deal.”)
“RU OK?” (“Are you okay?”)
“J but WTF?” (“I’m fine,” Mary said. “I just didn’t understand what went wrong. It started out so well and then he just changed. We had so much in common and we talked all the time, but lately, he’s been so distant. I think there may be someone else. I just don’t know. You know how guys can be. They are all lovey dovey when you’re alone, but the minute his friends show up, he becomes a stranger, and then the other day, we were in a chat room and he was talking to some blonde avatar. And I was right there.”)
“SOB STBY” (“What a jerk,” Sally said, “I wish I could say something to help.”)
“NP BRB” J (“It’s okay, really,” she said cheerfully, trying to keep her spirits up despite the devastating breakup. “Hang on a second okay, Sally?” Mary had another text coming in on her phone.)
“HB GGP” (“Sure,” Sally said, “Go ahead and answer it. I have to step away for a moment anyway.”)
“OMG GTG TTYL” (“Sally, he’s texting me right now telling me he’s sorry and he still loves me.” Mary couldn’t contain her excitement. “He doesn’t want to break up. There was no other girl. He knows he behaved badly. He promises not to do it again. I’m so happy!” Mary practically raced around the room with joy, her voice rising as she talked to her friend. “He’s going to give me his personal email address and he’s going to send me a real picture! Anyway, I have to go for now because he’s still texting me and his picture is coming through. I’ll talk to you later and let you know what he looks like!”)
Just imagine, in the future, a book like War and Peace would end up being a mere thirty pages.