I remember asking my son’s teacher in school just a few years ago, ‘What is a social cause?’
She first asked me what I thought it was and when I said that it was probably everything from saving paper to saving animals and the environment that would be a social cause, she said, ‘Yes, and respecting women, protecting the girl child, fighting to get society rid of the dowry system are all social causes. But there is one more thing that we need to pay attention to.’
She paused for a moment and then showed me an SMS that she had got. It was unreadable and I understood nothing. It sounded like gibberish to me until she said, ‘This is the way language is being criminally assaulted and this is the social cause that we need people to take up.’
I guess with Whatsapp, emails, online messaging, and other social media platforms, we have less time to pay attention to the way we express our feelings. But does this mean that lyk instead of like, dis in place of this, and dat instead of dat suddenly become acceptable? Spend some time on the social media and you’ll know what intrigue really means. The youth of today are all writing a strange language, a sort of new-age morse code that fifty-somethings like me can never understand. This is what makes Facebook and Twitter so intriguingly mysterious sometimes… and nearly always, goes way beyond being clearly understood even by those who write this gibberish.
I have spent months on twitter, experimenting with two-line rhymes that convey more meaning than even a paragraph and do not contain any off-landish short forms of perfectly sane words and have succeeded. So those who justify this illogical shortening of words must understand that even 140 characters can communicate well, if that is what you want them to do.
Clarity in communication is a social cause that I think we need to take up with a great degree of seriousness. ROFL and LoL are acronyms that may be acceptable wherever forms of colloquialism are fine… but this obsession with missing out vowels and consonants at will sounds absolutely bizarre and this tendency needs to be curbed.
So what do we do to make sense even when so many temptations are encroaching upon our time? Well, focus on the real message and communicate it with words that don’t look like they are rebelling against logic. I guess it is the urge to communicate in short bursts of incomplete thoughts and ideas that force us to resort to incomplete words… so instead of ten messages that are propped up on gibberish and say almost the same thing, write just one and get the job done.
This is a social cause that will make you appreciate good writing and this is what we need toady more than anything else.
I think it is time that we preferred to write ‘Like this, like that’ instead of ‘lyk dis, lyk dat’…
15 October 2015