It is a truism to say that the ways in which we communicate are changing even as I write this. It is a bit scary to see the speed with which it is happening.
By now we are all aware that cursive writing belongs to a bygone era. No teacher will any longer oversee the practice of the Palmer method or of any other form of writing. Printing will have to do so as to permit more time for instruction in test taking methods.
The phone as a speaking device is also fading beyond the horizon. Now it mainly sends text messages and allows users to check their email. Talking is something our forefathers did.
Just yesterday I learned that Facebook is also passé with the young, as are those 140 character messages, thanks to the innovative work of some young Japanese who have been creating icons for apps to express in picture form some simple requests: e.g. a bear holding a glass is an invitation to have a drink.
While this grew from the complexity of confining written Japanese to text message length, it is rapidly crossing international borders. The apps also do an end run around the necessary politeness of Japanese society that makes curt written messages seem rude.
We have all dined in places where those silent people sit at adjoining tables. Not long ago I sat near four young people celebrating something since they did stop texting long enough to lift glasses to each other, but they ate appetizers and entrees with no conversation between forkfuls. Yes, they each held a mobile that they put down long enough to pay the check and then they were on their way, still texting to an outside world.
When writing and speech fail, what will be left? Will we need new and more creative symbols to express our thoughts and desires? I had a wild thought. Baby books used to record first words. Now will they make a note of the first successful iconic message that Baby sends from his nursery phone?
I can only wonder what will be next. How about you?