When did I get so old?

Let's meet at the same time
Same place
Send your jpeg, I wanna see your face
Girlfriend, send an I.M.

My mother says that I was a serious child growing up. She tells me that her friends used to call me the "little old man" when I was younger.

I don't doubt it.

No time to spell
Oops, there goes that little bell
Bye, bye for now

I have always hated the corruption of language for the sake of convenience (though modification for necessity is a different issue). I think that English structure and vocabulary exists with a purpose and that our respectful treatment of it increases our ability to communicate effectively. Communication is one of the things that makes us unique and makes us human. It makes us real.

Hey, LOL, G2G
I gotta go, but watch for me 'cause
I'll be right back, BRB
So sign on, and I.M. me

I have a distinct memory of a conversation with my late Grandfather about online communication. I couldn't have been more than fifteen at the time (he died the summer I turned seventeen) and I was complaining about people making use of single letters for words ("u" for you and "r" for are, etc.). He defended the practice in environments where time was limited, like online gaming rooms of Bridge or Hearts where rounds might be timed and communication's brevity was at a premium.

I remember thinking that is was very odd to find yourself on that side of that particular debate--against your grandfather.

Mom thinks I'm doing homework
Yeah, research
But I can't help it, I've just got to surf
I gotta chat with my girlfriends on line

Recently I was perusing a xanga page from a college student four years younger than me written in the current vernacular. Lots of bad grammar, pointless acronyms, and mindless enthusiasm. I found my eyes glazing over just reading it. It was as if in order to process the meaning of the message I had to intentionally lower my own IQ.

I turned to my mother.

We're digital divas
Believe us
This Girl Wide Web is hot stuff
My buddy list is growing all the time

"When did I get so old?" I asked.

I got a web page
A domain
Sign my guest book with your screen name
Check it out, then send an I.M.

Lately I seem to have gotten more adamant about the respect of written English. I think if our ability to communicate over text is to mature it must be treated with great care. And I'm midway through an essay by George Orwell called Politics and the English language.

What's your profile?
Favorite quote?
This is just like passing notes
It's easier to type than use a pen

60 years isn't so long a time. Many of Orwell's words still ring true. One can only hope that some sense of proper structure and respect for the language can survive.

End Note: I had intended to write this particular entry as part comedy, but I find Nikki Cleary's lyrics so comical on their own I can't hope to top them for absurdity or humour. Besides, I think the contrast between my morose complaining and her vapid and ecstatic gushing about the complete rape of communication via the typed word is pleasing to the mind.

Nikki Cleary - I.M. Me

Sunday, February 19, 2006