Call me old-fashioned, but I miss paragraphs. No, let’s have it right, I miss coherent sentences. Some may call me a Luddite when I admit that I am irked by the way social media has altered people’s way of communicating. Don’t get me wrong; I love using whatsapp and Instagram to stay in touch, especially internationally, but my inner book worm gets all discombobulated when people seem unable to write more than one idea, nay, more than word, in a message.
For example (each line representing a new message from the same person):
how are you?
are you going tonight?
to the gym?
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! What the actual fuck is that about? How is sending five separate messages more efficient than sending one, which contains all the info? Many a time has my iphone almost met an untimely end with the wall, as it buzzes and buzzes with message after message.Why, why, WHY?
Well, here’s one theory. Because people are constantly being distracted by their mobiles, it seems like they cannot stay focused on anything for longer than your average goldfish. Various articles now cite 8 seconds as the average human attention span http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/ With messaging apps, many people are unable to construct a logical, if minute paragraph of text consisting of greeting, questions and/or necessary information. They cannot filter their thoughts, instead spewing out whatever enters their brains in a post-modern stream of consciousness which leaves me ready to stamp on my phone. I have enough problems dealing with my own stream of consciousness. I really don’t need anybody else’s, thanks all the same.
Gone are the days (my husband laments) when we had to struggle to fit everything into a 160 character text message that would cost you at least 10p to send. This led to all sorts of creative word jiggling, often with multiple drafting to omit any characters superfluous to meaning. For example:
Hi,how ru?comin out 2nite?band on 9pm.£5 in.cu there?
And while some of our college teachers worried that we would lose the ability to spell ‘proper English,’ txt spk was just a carefully considered means to an end. It could even be argued that text speak was an art from, omitting vowels and inventing condensed ways to express meaning; even making pictures. With the advent of unlimited messages, data and wifi, nobody has to consider the consequences of anything. There’s no worrying about how much credit you’ve got; if you got enough money on your phone to last the weekend; if that extra word will cost you an extra 10p. Unlimited messaging sometimes means unlimited drivel; people don’t have to get the point and make their meaning clear because it doesn’t cost them anything to send whatever pops into their head.
As I’ve said, I’m happy using messaging apps to stay in touch with friends and family. I’d just prefer a less distracting, longer message than the constant ‘prodding’ of multiple, miniscule messages.