Writerly Rant #6
The Language of Ones and Zeroes
Communication is a wonderful thing.
The modern ability to reach almost any corner of the globe near instantaneously from a device that sits in the palm of our hand would be the envy of any previous age. Is there anyone who doubts Napoleon would have benefited from an advanced weather report when his army reached Russia? Surely Amelia Earhart and her navigator could have used a satellite phone while stranded on a Pacific Island during her failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a prop plane. Imagine announcers on ESPN prattling on about the gladiators in the Roman Coliseum on high definition television or reading the Wright Brothers’ Twitter feed when they made their first flight at Kitty Hawk.
The problem is, despite advances in the ability to communicate, we all seem to have forgotten how to do so effectively.
With email, chat, text, and a plethora of social media, modern society has forgotten how to have an interpersonal conversation. Interpersonal skills are so rarely used that they are in danger of ceasing to exist altogether. The more technology surrounds us, the more comfortable we feel interacting with each other via an electronic medium than we do in person. Lost is the art of the handshake, and in its place has arisen newly coined terms such as LOL, SMH, IMHO, and WTF.
This doesn’t mean we have lost the ability to express ourselves as individuals in a society; we’ve just lost the ability to do it in person.
Shielded by the warm blanket of anonymity the digital world provides, countless millions opine on blogs, comment on message boards, and like Facebook statuses. While having the ability to express oneself is a right, I personally also reserve the right to tell people to shut up. It’s not that I don’t value diverse opinions, but at least have the decency to speak (or write) intelligently. Just as I don’t take medical advice from someone whose only medical contribution was to apply a Band-Aid or investment advice from the girl who works the register at Wal-Mart, I refuse to seek advice from those who don’t have a clue what they are talking about.
The Information Age has provided us a gift – it allows us to communicate more effectively with each other. Now the rest is on us.
Instead of using these tools to simplify our lives, we have made them more complex. Our personal interactions are increasingly limited while the exponential uptick in digital expression has created a white noise that is becoming harder to cut through. Separating opinions of experienced experts from the musings of Jonny Know-it-all, who is forty-three and still lives in his parent’s basement, has become a laborious task following nearly any search on Google these days.
Opinions are great, but educate yourself before expressing them.
Texts and emails are fantastic tools, but sometime a phone conversation or meeting in person is the best way to interact with others. Learn to communicate effectively, because it is a skill that will be an asset to you for a lifetime. And finally, if you have a strong opinion about something, think about whether someone really gives a damn about what you write. Er… wait a second… did I just write that in a blog post?
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Mikael Carlson is the author of the political fiction novel, The iCandidate. He is an eighteen-year veteran of the armed forces, served as a U.S. Army Paratrooper, and earned a Master of Arts in American History. Mikael currently lives in Connecticut.