I think it’s no secret from the frequency and volume of verbosity on this site each week that I’m rather fond of the written language and, note to anyone who is lucky enough to have my phone digits, I prefer written communication to a phone call, to the point that when my phone rings, it can send me scuttling under a large object to hide in the dark like a cockroach running from the kitchen light. Yes, I love text and e-mail.
This isn’t to say that I prefer texting people who are sat opposite me in the pub to actual real verbal repartee, that would make me a teenager. I’m rather fond of a good bit of banter over a beverage, it’s just that for me, a text or an e-mail can seem far less intrusive or demanding than the nerve jangling ring tone of the teleblower.
I love the way a text or an e-mail can reveal so much about a person or a relationship. There are endless possibilities for sharing humour, stories, deep emotions and hard facts (saved-to-folder for a time when it might come in handy for blackmail/saving your derriere in court/making money from the press). There’s something so delightful about finding an old e-mail from a dear forgotten friend (some friend they turned out to be) and reliving the crazy buoyancy of your youth or cringing at the pompous way you used to rant about things that simply don’t figure on your radar any more (mind you, that skank in chemistry class really was a smelly poo head – you had a point).
Among some of my most highly treasured possessions are e-mails from my mother. Even though her message is coming to you electronically, you just know she’s thinking in calligraphy and dear lord, that is one articulate woman. I just love a personal message that has to be deciphered using a dictionary, a thesaurus and the Rosetta Stone!
E-mail and text, blessed bearers of babble that they are, are not entirely without fault. For every heart lifting moment I get when I see one pinging into my life, another comes along and chips away a little bit of my soul like a retarded stonemason. Why, you ask? Is it all the dreaded spam that causes me to die inside a little bit? No, it’s the fact that some of my nearest and dearest (and anyone else with access to a keyboard/keypad) think nothing of brutalising the English language to the point where it resembles an inbred hunchback with boss-eyes, body odour and webbed toes.
Aside from poor grammar and appalling spelling terrors (this is neither the time nor the place to go into all of those – we could be here for weeks!), there are some other particular e-mail and text faux pas that I find hard to swallow.
I’m sorry kids, I’m so not down with you. I will never “LOL” at what you just said, I do not feel “gr8” and I am most definitely refusing to join “u” in any other kind of silly unnecessary abbreviated shenanigan. I will “OMG” but that’s only because I’m being ironic and when said aloud, I will say ”O, M, G”, not “oh my god”. Don’t think I’m speaking your language; I’m mocking you with all my pedantic heart. Just because the method of communication is disposable, doesn’t mean you have to treat the English language as such.
Feel free to ROFL at me all you want but if you need me to put LOL/PMSL/LMAO at the end of something I just said to denote that what was said contains humour, then you probably won’t get the humour anyway. Move along now, there’s nothing for you here.
Little smiley faces are different. Sometimes the level of acid in my tone can be off the pH scale and so an occasional little cheeky wink is necessary, but only so that when you don’t see one, you know I actually do mean to cause you sincere and deep offense. Seriously, I hate you. No sarcasm.
I’ve been accused of being grumpy in my text and e-mails (who, Moi?!) and not because of the acerbic way in which I attack the subject matter and not because of my vile potty mouth. No, it’s for one simple reason that I was totally unaware of until just a few years ago. I don’t leave kisses after I sign off. WTF?! (Oh yeah, that’s right, I just WTF’d!)
No matter how genial I’ve been in the tone of my writing, apparently the fact I don’t leave a series of little x’s across the bottom of the screen means that I’ve somehow admitted to being in league with Beelzebub. It would seem that omitting kisses is akin to wishing a plague of herpes upon the reader and all their offspring. Seriously, WTF?!?!
Let us look at the humble origins of the x-as-a-kiss (possible citation needed but this is my blog, I shall re-write history as I see fit. Deal with it and move on). It comes from people being illiterate and instead of signing one’s name, people without written skills would make their “mark” (a cross) and then, on really, really important documents, to show they really, reeeeally meant to keep their word, they would kiss their “mark”. Hey presto, the x-as-a-kiss was born and my written correspondence was doomed to a reputation of skullduggery and of having all the friendliness of a wasp with a sawn off shotgun.
I’m not illiterate, I can write my name and so do not need to sign off with a cack-handed pair of crossed lines in place of my signature. What’s more, I would like to analyse the frequency with which this kissing business is meted out and I shall demonstrate my point with a snippet of conversation between two friends via text:
(They’re imaginary friends so don’t worry too much about their names. You can give them some if you like. How about Bernard and Bernice? You can give them pets too if you want. How about jobs at the Post Office! Too much? *ahem* Back to my point)
Friend A: “Have you read any good blogs lately? xxx”
Friend B: “I have. I’ve just been learning about Shoe Recognition Techniques. xxx”
And so on…
Nothing odd about this, is there? Or is there… Let us now move these two text-tastic little chums from the land of cyber and put them face to face in a bar.
Friend A: “Have you read any good blogs lately?” *leans across table and kisses friend B*
Friend B: “I have. I’ve just been learning about Shoe Recognition Techniques.” *leans across table and kisses friend A*
And so on…
Just plain weird and also a very long winded, energy-consuming way to carry out a basic social exchange. If it’s ridiculous to dish out smooches after every uttered sentence in real life, why do we have to do it in written form? One of these serial kissers informed me that this plague of little x’s was like a sign-off, a polite full stop. No, I’ll tell you what a polite full stop is, it’s a single little dot after a written word to denote the ending of the sentence. A rude full stop would be me punching you in the face to stop you from reading.
I’ll admit, youthful abbreviations and overly affectionate sign-offs are very minor crimes when you take into consideration the colourful and creative ways in which people bludgeon grammar and spelling into a paste of sodomised words (seriously, not enough time or space to go into that little muckheap), but until they conduct e-mail and text lessons in schools across the land, I shall have to stand firm and proudly hold my ground, enjoying the finesse of the last few great e-mailers and the panache of those scant remaining wordketeers in my phone book who take their time to text in full. To all these brave, dwindling heroes, I blow kisses. xxx (LOL)