A blueish flame licked the bottom of the kettle, I settled the filter in the funnel and scooped four mountains of that brown magic. We all took turns in waking up a bit earlier to perform this morning ritual; today it was mine. The kettle started to whistle modestly.
I turned down the flame and poured slowly yet steadily, the boiling water on the ground beans. Soon, the scent of fresh coffee wafted through the house.
How many still brew coffee this way? Maybe you have the fancier coffeemaker, where the water gets heated and trickled automatically into a glass coffee pot. Even this takes some time and preparation.
Or does your schedule allow only instant coffee?
No matter the choice, you will taste the difference in preparation.
In today’s modern rushed life, coffee is not the only thing that has been ‘instafied.‘
“Hey, you there?“
A high pitched tone breaks the silence; a notification popped up your screen. You were actually in the middle of something, but you interrupt your current activities and unlock the screen.
Today, instant messaging is a part of our social life, and it is difficult to imagine having ever lived without it. And while there are benefits and ease to it, you should be aware of its dangers.
You’ve got Mail
Long before Messenger, WhatsApp or Skype and long before the invention of internet and E-mail, there was a time when communication took a much longer way and time.
When you wished to thank your brother for the beautiful present he sent you; you sat behind the desk, pulled out a sheet of paper, dipped the quill in the inkpot, and started writing.
After that, you folded the letter in an envelope, addressed & stamped it, and brought it to the nearest post office. Depending on how far the mail coach had to travel, or what happened on the road, it could take days, weeks and even months before the letter reached its destination. Once delivered, the reply could easily need the same amount of time.
Nowadays, if you don’t reply a message in the first 10 seconds, people ‘go mental.’
“what’s wrong?” – “is it something I said?” – “R u angry?”
Thanks to the ‘Blue tick of doom’ there is no excuse for nnot replying straight away.
During the postal era, the effort and time used for writing letters, required you to do so only when you had something important to relate. You would consider carefully what to write and how to formulate it.
Even when writing an E-mail, you still have the chance to edit out mistakes, change or remove wordinng that might sound aggressive, negative or poorly chosen.
With instant messaging, you can write what comes up in your mind, and most likely the immediate response will be as impulsive. Because of the speed of it, the time frame to reflect on the message before sending is very short. Without the filter of time, there is no buffer which makes you consider what has been written, in what emotional state your contact could be, and what your answer should be.
When not thinking it through, this careless instant back and forth messaging can escalate pretty quickly in a tirade, destroying relationships.
Instant Massaging – Oops, Autocorrect
While some speak in favor, others against, it is undeniable that in recent years a new language has developed between the nimble-fingered youngsters. And while I certainly do not want to limit the creative minds of our new generation, we should be aware of the effect of this new way of communicating.
Several studies performed on the effect of ‘texting’ on the language skills of children, resulted in different conclusions.The primary point of debate is whether or not this new way of communicating is killing language and grammar. Others promote it as enhancing language skills, even name it the evolution of language.
When interviewing school teachers, their responses show that the impact of texting has become quite noticeable in essays and tests.
“One of the biggest (problems) is the letter ‘u’ for the word ‘you,’ ”said David Finkle, who teaches at Southwestern Middle School in DeLand. “That will sneak in a lot and you have to constantly remind them that’s not good.“*
One teacher’s 11th-grader penned an email with 84 words and no punctuation.
The teen strung together several mispelled words, including his teacher’s name, in one run-on sentence:
“hello mrs naherny its (name of student) from 3rd period and turnit in .com wont accept my essay because its not from microsoft word witch i do not have on the computer i am using at my freinds house i printed out a copy of the website page and attached it to my essay so that you know that i am not lying i dont know what else to do sorry heres a copy of my essay so that u can see i did it”*
Is this a problem? Can we state texting is killing language?
I suppose it all depends on how you look at it and what side of the debate you are on.
Perhaps texting is the catalyst of transformation in the ever-changing language?
Stephen Howe writes in ‘The Personal Pronouns in the Germanic Languages’ that in the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries, ‘thou’ was commonly used to address someone who was socially inferior or an intimate. For instance, parents called their children ‘thou’, and children called their parents ‘you’.
When in the seventeenth century the use of ‘thou‘ clearly decreased, I can imagine a teacher complaining about his students:
“tis saddening to see the word ‘you’ hath used for the word ‘thou.’
t happeneth very oft, and thou has’t to remind over and again those gents should keepeth the language of their forefathers.”
So, can we say instant messaging is going to cause the next evolution of language?
Considering how over time each language has individually evolved and weighing it against this international phenomenon, that not only influences English but languages all over the world simultaneously, it might be wiser to classify it as a completely new way of communicating; like Morse code, telegrams, and the encrypted messages used during the World Wars.
But then again, soldiers did not lose their sense of grammar and punctuation during the war.
A world of poker
In the world of poker, it is seen as an asset to be able to conceal what you are thinking or feeling. The primary objective is to hide the value of your cards from your opponents. So, rightfully this ability was bestowed the term ‘Poker Face.’
In day to day communication, unless you are haggling down a price on a item, showing emotion is essential to convey the right message. We express our human feelings with the use of diverse modalities, such as voice, face, and body.
When talking to your friend, for example, you will notice her surprise when she raises her voice, her eyes widen or when she holds her hand before an open mouth.
Social Media has tried to mimic this showing of emotions with pictorial representations of facial expression. But these emoticons can hardly match the complexity and honesty of what our natural face and body can convey. Aside from that, you don’t have to show how you are genuinely feeling; you might feel sad or lonely, but still you can tap the wink or a smile.
Or perhaps someone is hiding the values of his cards, and he is trying to cover his true intentions and motivation.
As instant messaging has become the principal way of interacting with the younger generations, face to face interactions have become scarce. Embarrassing conversations like breaking up a relationship, are being handled from screen to screen.
As a result, when faced with a real-life confrontation, they are increasingly less able to interpret body language, facial expressions, or tone of voice, which leaves them at a significant disadvantage.
Multi-tasking or Multi-texting?
Many companies have a policy,that prohibits or limits the use of the personal phones during work hours. Depending on the nature of your employment, these policies originate from the perspective of safety, hospitality or productivity.
It does not need any explanation that social media and the constant interruption of messages affect your productivity.
Hence, it is understandable that employers would enforce these policies, since they are paying you to perform after all.
As for safety; working with machinery, tools, or more vital, with people, it is essential you keep a hundred percent focus on what you are doing. There is no excuse for damaging property or worse, injuring or killing people, just because you had to reply to that message.
In the hospitality industry, it is seen as plain rude if you are messaging while guests are nearby. Even if they are not addressing you, you should always be approachable for any queries or remarks. Proper attitude and posture are critical traits for someone in a hotel, restaurant, or as a receptionist of a company. Looking down, with your face lit up, is anything but a proper posture.
“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
You think this is an overstatement in a topic like this?
Don’t you believe instant messaging holds this immense power?
Let’s put some smartphones installed with WhatsApp in the hands of Julius Caesar, or Alexander the Great and their generals… You see the power now?
It is not because something is small or feels very common that it holds no power. Plus, you don’t need to be planning on taking over the world; just a simple message can lay a lot of waste to another’s world.
No matter what you believe in what power you hold in your hand, the responsibility is there.
Poorly worded messages can upset your contact, even unintentionally.
You are the one responsible when composing messages to prevent misunderstandings and disagreements. Take your time, as well in responding and in waiting for a response. There is no rush!
Be aware that nothing is as it seems. In your mind, the message you send might sound very reasonable, but the receiver was neither following your inside-mind reasoning nor will s/he be seeing your facial expression, your body language or hearing the tone of your voice. You should approach received messages likewise, if not sure what it means, perhaps you should ask for clarification?
In general, if you need to address something important, take your time, and relay the message in person.
In a professional environment, you should consider that the working hours are not yours, you are renting out your time, expecting payment in return. Depending on the implemented policies at work, you should act responsibly and accordingly. Is your schedule packed, you got a deadline? Perhaps you should power down your instant messenger?
And while not mentioned, you are responsible for others on the road, be it when driving a car, a bike or being a pedestrian. Keep your eyes off the screen and on the road!
*Texting slang creeps into student writing – by Annie Martin – Newsjournal