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Brave New (Digital) World

August 17, 2009

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  You know, sometimes when daily life is running on an even keel, it’s become very easy to just leave the internet and general methods of communication completely by the wayside. It could even be considered therapeutic. At times, it seems, only in times of a certain type of necessity does one need to spill ones guts over the Information Superhighway.

Now isn’t especially one of them but hell, sometimes inspiration strikes.

I work in the mobile marketing industry- It’s all about communication, engaging customers/users/anyone really, using the most personal medium that exists- the mobile phone.

Some might say that the advent of mobile communication has revolutionised our way of life…. Has it? When I was 11, I remember seeing a bloke with one of those giant mobile phones and thinking “That guy looks like a w*nker with that massive brick-like contraption held against the side of his head”. (Of course, I didn’t know the word w*nker at the time, for I was young and innocent). I also didn’t know at the time that that ‘contraption’ would become a large part of my livelihood 15 years later.

Of course, mobile phones have come a long way since then: No more bricks but small, stylish handsets that reflect the owner’s personality and contain  whole manner of features, making a phone more like a pocket computer than something you talk into. And that’s the thing, isn’t it- people don’t talk anymore, they TEXT…

I write SMS copy for a global FMCG brand’s mobile marketing campaigns so I can txtspk with the best of ’em but if the non-abbreviated version of the word fits within the 160 characters I have at my disposal, I use it. Many people do not. Even if they have unlimited characters available, they will still type ‘wot u up 2 2nite? (“What are you up to tonight?” for you old people) or other ridiculous abbreviations. Can people actually write English these days? Am I getting old and cranky?

It’s not just the death of the English language that bothers me: It’s the death of verbal communication. I admit, I’ve fallen head first into the trap as hard as the next 28-year-old-going-on-60 office worker: I’ll email someone instead of picking up the phone in case they ask me something I can’t answer on the spot, I’ll write an SMS to say hi, rather than calling; Facebook, Xing, LinkedIn, Twitter are all in my ‘most used sites’ and sometimes, I’m ashamed to say, I find myself Skyping my colleague, who sits directly opposite me. If Darwin was alive, he’d be talking about our vocal chords becoming obsolete, so lacking will be our ability to verbalise.

Not only verbal communication is on the decline: Remember the good old days when you had to know when and where you were going to meet your mates before you even left the house? People were mostly on time because they had to be, otherwise they were left behind: There was no way they could text/call to tell you they were running late and if something happened to make your buddy late, you’d have the patience to wait for them rather than texting “Where r u?! (angryface)”. Patience, punctuality, even face to face communication are slowly being altered by the brave new digital world. I mean, why even have friends IRL (that’s ‘in real life’ for the old folks)- you’re only going to get swine flu from them.

Must dash, I need to send my boyfriend an SMS on one of my 3 mobile phones to tell him that I love him. Oh yeah, and we only ‘cyber’- I’ve never met him IRL.*

(*anyone who knows me will know that this is a blatant lie but it’s believable, isn’t it?)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kirsty permalink
    August 17, 2009 23:02

    My 9 year old daughter has no concept of having to carry 10p for the phone or not being able to google the answer from your phone. On the other hand, I can regularly send wee messages to Malcolm throughout the day sorting out all sorts of things to do with the new house, not really interrupting the flow of his working day, if I had to PHONE him, his colleagues would be VERY annoyed by now.

    Incidentally, txtspk is acceptable in English exams up to GCSE level – *sadface*

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