After examining about a week of my emails not long ago, I realized how far we’ve come from the lovely hand-written letters we wrote when our writing told everybody we practiced “ovals” with love. Mine looked more like a series of broken noses.
It didn’t matter then what you said, as long as it was in cursive and you could sweep a capital T up into the air like a plumed hat. Hand inscription is all but gone now, because nobody can read it any longer, or wants to. Sadly, for future generations, centuries of hand-written sources in archives will be as readable as crop circles.
That takes me to our current era of texting. Where communications can get unhinged, as in ...
1. Loss of sensitivity
Cyber communications today can be insensitive and sometimes mystifying. Because laziness takes over, and we don’t even bother to change the email subject line. Example, brother to brother: Subject: Bad News. Uncle Petey died yesterday. Message: Thought you’d like to know. (End of message.)
But then the email thread goes on for weeks into other topics that have nothing to do with Uncle Petey. Subject: Bad News. Uncle Petey died yesterday. Message: Wow, bro, I got a new lady... Bada Bing! Subject: Bad News. Uncle Petey died yesterday. Message: Strike while the IRON IS HOT, bro. Know what I mean? LOL. Subject: Bad News. Uncle Petey died yesterday. Message: Hey, got photo from the chick... in a bikini. Whoa! This babe is superhot.
And this same thread will continue for weeks with the same subject line, while Uncle Petey turns in his grave.
2. Computer translating
This email auto-correct business can be a nuisance. Because auto-correct kidnaps your message and makes it sound like you’re on the wrong meds. A simple sentence like “Can’t help thinking about how time flies.” turns into “Candy hears things above hot tickle flashes.”
See, the computer shouldn’t be translating for me, or jumping in before I’m finished. If it wishes to make a spelling suggestion, that’s okay. But some stuff sounds like dark-web code for, “Space aliens are abducting our children, turning them into liberals.”
See, I don’t know how to turn off auto-correct. And some of these auto-incorrects get missed, and of course, one gets phone calls asking if you have changed your meds.
3. Writing shortcuts
Using punctuation faces and emojis now replace the magnificent language of the past:
“When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I alone beweep my outcast state ...”
This has been replaced by: Smiley faces, winking eyes, hearts of all shapes are everywhere these days because they require no linguistic thought. We are moving back to ancient hieroglyphics (pictographs), where wall-etchings of an eyeball next to a duck followed by a human foot told Egyptians something awe-inspiring. (interpreted: We will build that pyramid, not because it is easy but because it is hard!)
Then, there are initials that short-cut statements, to clean up an expletive, for convenience, for more emphasis: OMG, DIY, WTF and so on. If you don’t know these, you’re living in the inkwell age, because they are the beginning of a whole new lexicon. (The descendants of FUBAR.) Acronyms are like Chinese letters; each one is an amalgam of glyphs that expresses a complete idea. For instance, one Chinese character denotes a woman. Put three women characters together and this is the Chinese glyph for gossip. (True. Don’t write me any nasty letters.)
4. Outdated emails.
The most bizarre thing about emails is that they can get computer-delayed and you can suddenly get an email from a deceased Uncle Petey. You could then think Uncle Petey is still alive after you sent flowers and a holy card to the family. “Uncle Petey, I’M TOTALLY EMBARRASSED! Let’s meet for a beer.” Emails to cadavers make matters worse; get you banished from the family.
5. Finally, this reminds us of people who insist on WRITING IN ALL CAPS SO THAT YOU DON’T THINK THEIR EMAIL IS TRIVIAL. (BECAUSE IT IS.)