I see them everywhere. The many who so totally thrive and seem to be nurtured in some strange way by ‘word correspondence’. And yes, although my neighbours are all socially polished enough to ignore the newspaper on the kitchen table when they come for coffee, at the same time, in one short hour they will whip out cell phones every four minutes for a brief ‘read’ or more amazing yet, to write.
It is all, to me, such an amazing phenomenon. When did ’writing’ and ’reading’ become such a passion, such a delight, such a part of humankind’s existence? I would never have expected our species to come to this.
I remember my Mother nagging us when we were kids to send a note to Grandma to thank her for the new doll, or a note to Aunty for inviting us for the weekend. We cringed and wailed and held back hoping she’d forget it. She had to be kidding. Expecting us to go to school everyday, and write all those words and figures and then on an evening or weekend to be expected to send written correspondence to someone. Yikes.
Eventually, with all the nagging, the girls in the family might eventually send an un-inspired floral card. But with the boys, it was a useless battle, like expecting them to wash their ears once a week -- Not going to happen!
And yes, we were all keen to have a pen-pal. I enlisted several. Did I write to them? Not so much. A couple of grand epistles and that was the end of that. And even dear friends that moved away. The written exchanges dwindled away rapidly.
And I remember in school when the English Lit assignment was a short paragraph. An audible sigh of objection swept through the classroom that mimicked that same collective sigh heard when the health nurse arrived and we were all advised we were going to get a shot. And if the assignment was 200 words, the wail was a grand duplication of anguished souls in a great pit of fire.
Nothing was quite so degenerating as a request to write something down. We object, we scoff. We know full well what is, or isn’t, a waste of time. And written correspondence is a complete waste of time.
Reading, likewise. But without the luxury of television, we will read comics of a Saturday morning. Yes we will. But assigned reading? Not so much. For the book report, the art of it was to read a bit of the introduction, a page in the middle, and the final chapter all of which sufficed for that assignment. But even that was too much for most of the boys. They shuffled their feet under their desks, they agreed the book report was due, but even at that, no such attempt ever saw the light of day.
Hub was in the same Lit class with me when we were in school, and I know it is true, when he says he did not submit one written assignment during the entire year. He did not, nor did other boys in that class of the same ilk. In those days there were no bigger nerds, than the savages that devoured text or spit it out for love of it. No fashion in it, no style, no sophistication, no class, no koolness.
But now, look around you. Texting, texting, everywhere, without a chance to think. Talk about a savage perusal of written language. People, both young and old, of all genders, are tweeting, twittering, texting, like fiends out of control. And the necessity of doing it ranks right up there with the need for food, water, and shelter.
Texting is totally swank. Written exchanges are welcome and heartily engaged in whether one is eating, sleeping, driving, socializing, sexing, or on the john. When and how did this all happen?
And the amazing thing is the art of texting parallels, in a crazy way, that of the book report aforementioned. It has less to do with content and more to do with speed, terseness, compaction, and overall efficiency.
But even more an enigma, is my position in this new clime of correspondence. I don’t text, but I’m in there. Doing the trendy thing with my writing and blogging.
Yet, even in this new clime, among my circle of friends that are texting someone, somewhere, every four minutes. And same friends that are simultaneously aware of my passion for writing and aware that I have a secret blog. These same, reportedly, among themselves, with sadness that precipitates dewy eyes, express an ongoing and painful concern about the mental deficiency that drives my passion for written text on a daily basis. Go figure!