I feel it's time for a rant. It's been too long. My subject today is a question: "Is digital communication causing us to grow shallower by the minute?!" Let me expand. Does instant access to communication and information make us broader but shallower--in our relationships, knowledge, and critical thinking?
Take texting for example. It seems we've lost the ability to spell, write complete sentences, even articulate thoughts beyond 160 characters. Sorry, but emoticons don't count. Texting is fine for last minute updates on information ("running late")--but we all know that for many (kids in particular) this medium serves more purposes than this. As a possible consequence of this, I am now stunned by how many spelling errors I'm seeing not only in digital media, but also in print media. Boulder's Daily Camera gives me a wealth of examples each morning. It's fingernails-on-the-chalkboard for this English major.
I would argue that thoughtful, articulate communication requires time and space--and lack of interruption. My big fear is that we are not only growing shallower and losing our capacity for critical thinking (as a culture), but that we are inevitably giving way to our feelings and jettisoning our ability to reason well. As we get busier and more distracted by tweets, emails, IMs, facebooking (it's a verb now), etc--and as we customize all our preferences online--are we trading something essential--giving up quiet and solitude for constant noise? Thoughtful, considerate communication for more convenient instant contact?
What about these bizarre things people keep sending on Facebook--virtual flowers, coffee, blah, blah, blah. I know they're meant to indicate someone's thinking of you, but they strike me as impersonal and frankly ridiculous.
I'm fascinated by the changes we're witnessing and sharing together, but at the same time, I'll be honest: I'm troubled. I'm worried about our souls. Sometimes I feel we're like lemmings, rushing pell-mell to the cliff's edge, propelled by technology, and hurtling to our demise.
Okay, okay... that was a bit strong...but I am concerned. My ambivalence grows daily: I'm excited by the breadth and speed of information technology--but discomfited by what we may be sacrificing along the way. More and more the need to be "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves" comes to mind--we need much wisdom to navigate the opportunities and perils of the digital age. Anybody with me? Or am I just getting old and crotchety?