A World of Empty Words and Emptier Thoughts Written by Rick Trottier – RJT Images-Light Works Studio

by admin

“Messaging, Social Media and the Decline of Language”
From the earliest days of recorded human history, mankind has marveled at his uniquely separate nature when it comes to language. We are not alone when it comes to creating artifacts like lodging. Creatures other than man build structures of all sizes and shapes. Mankind is not even singular in his use of tools, for a few other animals do that as well. It has become apparent through years of study that we share the planet with other species that have methods of communication. But it is mankind’s use and consistent development of language for a wide variety of reasons, both practical and fanciful that has set us apart from all the other denizens of this Earth. That is until this recent age of language denigration and academic decline. Today, we have a greater number of means of communicating with our peers and “keeping in touch” than at any other time in history, but we say little of consequence and much of what passes for communication is not all that different from the squawks of seagulls and the chattering of chickens. As our technology advances and allows us greater ease of almost everything, some of the most uniquely human traits of which we should be most proud are draining from us like blood lost from a wound.

There are many examples of how language has declined in complexity and beauty, from the common use of “text speak” to the saturation of abbreviated forms of slang that render understanding nearly impossible. But one of the most egregious losses is that of “letter writing”. Sitting down and thoughtfully composing a letter is a lost art and we are worse for its disappearance from the landscape of language. Even though parents use to “require” children to write “thank you” letters to family and friends for birthday and Christmas gifts, and schools taught varied styles of business letters, writing to someone and mailing out that letter was once a regular occurrence. I wrote A LOT of letters, all the way to the point where my arthritis made my handwriting unintelligible. People wrote for myriad reasons. Sometimes it was as formal as a letter to a company’s customer service department or fan mail to an admired sports hero. But more often than not, letters had deeper emotional and intellectual meaning. When looking at the historical record, there are some incredibly moving examples. Over the last decades of their lives, former presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson conducted a correspondence which has since gone down in American History as one of the most important and influential series of political and personal discussions ever. Each exploring their thoughts cogently and voluminously, the two Founding Fathers set forth philosophical ideas and expressions of deeper friendship that are beacons to us as a people for what language and communication of the very highest order should be. American writers Walker Percy and Shelby Foote also corresponded back and forth over the majority of their lives, examining ideals, thoughts and feelings in such a manner as to be both charming and insightful, as well as intimate.


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