Writing: A Love-Hate Relationship
It doesn’t take any special talent or genius to notice that the world we live in has changed. The world is smaller both in the sense of travel and communication. And, because the world is smaller, in the virtual realm at least, we are all more connected…or at least we have the potential to be. With a few clicks of the mouse or a keyboard we can communicate with someone halfway around the world, as if they were sitting in our living room.
Video and all!
What does require mentioning, or at least it must be noted, is that how we communicate has changed, drastically.
No, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to note that things have changed. What needs to be noted is how, and at times how badly, we communicate with each other as a result of these changes.
I have a love/hate relationship with the written word!
I love to write and hate to write.
I love to write because I feel it takes more time to shape what I am going to say and how I am going to say it. I love to write because it makes me think about each and every word I put on a page. I love to write because I have the ability to walk away from what I think I wrote, let it sit long enough for me to look at it with fresh eyes, and come back to it. And finally, I love to write because I can come back to what I think I’ve written, look at what I’ve actually written, and edit it so it communicates my original thoughts in a clear and meaningful manner.
The writing process takes coming up with an idea, thought, planning, time, and patience.
In the end, writing is a beautiful way to communicate because it forces one to think before spouting off or shooting from the hip; and, because it forces one to really think about not only the message but the vehicle of expression and, usually, the context in which the message will be delivered.
How great is that?
On the other hand, I hate writing because it requires time and patience. A paradox? I also hate writing because it is labor intensive. And, I hate writing because writing has changed, as the way we communicate the written word has changed.
You see, writing used to be something that required all of the things I mentioned when I spoke of my love for writing…and more. Writing used to be about writing stories and letters people appreciated receiving for all the very reasons I love writing.
In other words, the people reading my words knew I had taken the time to sit down and create something special, something unique, and something dedicated to the individual receiving the message.
Or at least that was the impression!
Sadly, as our world becomes more connected, and as we gain the ability to communicate with people halfway around the world with the click of a mouse or a few clicks of the keyboard, the written word has morphed into email and tweets and posts and texts.
Very often these messages, verbal expressions in written form, have little to do with meaningful communication.
Or, at the very least, they have lost the depth in terms of process and meaning.
In other words, it is no longer necessary to come up with an idea. It is no longer necessary to develop that idea into a well-thought out plan or outline. It is no longer necessary to plan how the message will be communicated and received. It is no longer a matter of taking the time to develop an idea, think about how to communicate it, and how to contextualize it so it is received properly.
And finally, and this is a reflection of the times and all things Internet, patience is no longer in the picture…at all!
In today’s world, we go from idea to blasting that idea to 500 or 5,000 or 50,000 or 500,000 or 1.5 million or 15 million or 150 million in an instant. An instant later, that thought, well-thought out or not, is picked up by Google and scrolled across monitors from here to Hanoi, the world certainly has changed!
No thought, no time, no editing, no patience, and very little meaning!
We have gone from a society that treasured the written word to a society that has transformed it into tweets and posts and emails and texts!
Where will it all end?
I haven’t the foggiest!
I do know one thing: I am as guilty of this as the next person…or was!
I’d send out an email and have someone react badly to an idea; only to find out that I had written one thing and communicated something altogether different. The difference between what I thought I was saying, and what was being received at the other end, was a consequence of a few badly placed words and an inadequately shaped message.
Because I forgot the formula and I didn’t take the time!
The writing process is all-the-more corrupted on and by Twitter and Facebook.
In fact, it has been forever altered by social media. We shoot from the hip or blast out meaningless comments to people we don’t know, and have no way of knowing, beyond the 140 characters and the profile picture they allow us to see.
But that’s the topic for a different sort of article.
Want a real eye-opener?
Watch Surrogates with Bruce Willis, arguably his worst move ever…and that includes Die Hard II. But the idea behind Surrogates is happening today, online and throughout social media.
Think about it!
What is actually behind that smiling face?
The one the profile picture projects?
Do you have any way of knowing?
In a few cases, you do…if they use video and/or you have had actual, human interaction.
But for the majority?
We have no idea!
But we blather away and divulge our innermost thoughts to total stangers and we don’t even think about what we are going to say, how we are going to say it, or who we are saying it to.
We shoot from the hip…and then it is gone!
Can we fix this?
I doubt it!
I believe we have gone over to The Dark Side...or whatever comes next.
The saddest part?
We have children, teenagers, and young adults who will never know the wonder of the written word, rarely read, and never sit down to write anything more meaningful than a video description or a text message.
Is the written word dead?
Not in the Fahernheit 451 sense, at least not yet.
But as we once knew it?
I am afraid so!
I speak to students every day who cannot write. I know college students who, beyond English 101 and English 102, have never taken an essay exam or written a paper.
I have hired writers making serious money on the various “Guru” and “Freelancer” outsourcing sites who cannot write conversationally, writers I have rejected because I refused to accept what they had written…much less put my name on it.
Most writers today cannot write conversationally and are unable to string thoughts together into a cohesive whole.
Sad but true!
Where will it end?
I have no way of knowing. But the evolution is in high gear and we are witnessing the transition online and in our schools today. The end result cannot be good. The written word has been around almost as long as we have in one form or another: first as rudimentary symbols; and ultimately as forms defining meaning.
There is a fundamental link between what happens in our brain, what we put on paper. It is how we learn! Writing is an integral component in the learning process and one that is being written out, forgive the pun.
In large measure, communication is dominated by video, the Internet, and the cell phone.
The art and use of language, if not lost, has been forever altered. I would argue it has been corrupted!
There are few, if any, solutions. At least none I can suggest and/or predict; this is a process. Those who can express themselves well will gain a real edge in our society, if only because there are so few who can do it well.
If you are a writer?
If you are not and want to make money online?
Learn how…there is money to be made!
If you are not and could care less?
You probably stopped reading this a while ago.
However, if you didn’t?
I’ll see you on Twitter!
Thanks for taking the time to read this and please leave your thoughts, they enrich all of us!
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107