#48 – English: A Dying language murdered by e-mails and texts.

In writing about communication and sex, it would be very remiss to ignore the impact on language of those damned Blackberries. One of the few useful skills that used to be taught to young people in typing class is that while humans are endowed with opposable thumbs, they were never meant to be used for typing. At most, the thumb was engaged only for the purpose of leaving a space. On a proper size Qwerty keyboard, you can use either thumb to move your cursor along to the next word.

But Blackberries have changed the proper order of things. Would you believe they actually have competitions to see which kid can type faster with their thumbs? They are causing serious cases of carpal thumb syndrome!

The reality is that they are not really using their thumbs but their thumb nails. People with a decent manicure can greatly improve their Blackberry skills. What it does not do is improve their use of the English language. Blackberries are doing the English language irreparable harm.

Can you imagine the idiot who sends a Blackberry message to a nubile young lady inviting her for a romantic evening of dining, dancing, sweet nothings, great sex and then has the effrontery of adding a smirking happy face? She should respond by saying, “Sorry, I have to go to the funeral for the last idiot who used a happy face in an e-mail.”

This rant is not about spelling. That battle was lost cause many years ago. Some nerd added spell check to word processing programs and the language has never recovered. Nobody today knows the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’ and little do they care.

And then along came twitter with a limit of 140 characters and instead of challenging the skill of our youth at using the language, it allowed them to abbreviate. The first time I came across somebody using ‘2’ to represent ‘to, too and two,’ I bloody near had a stroke. Even worse some idiots resolved spelling big words by taking out all the vowels in the word, as well as the consonants they forgot. Messaging has become a contest in deciphering gobbledygook.

What is most frightening about this Blackberry craze is that people are spending hundreds of dollars a month to feel important. Executives sit in meetings staring down at their laps. They are neither praying nor playing with themselves. They are running their worlds with their thumbs. They dare not be out of touch.

It is important to me (probably no one else) that I point out that I have always been an early user of new technologies. I am not a dinosaur. I just think the Blackberry craze has gone too damn far! It is doing no good for our language.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to peter@lowry.me

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