Over the weekend, my son had a friend over. They were playing around on one computer while I was working on the other. My son’s friend sent me an i.m., pretending to be my son. Immediately, I sent a message back suggesting that this was not my son, because it didn’t sound like him. The friend wanted to know how I could tell the difference, if I couldn’t hear voice. My son and I got into a long discussion, on i.m., noting the differences in our three “voices”. Eventually, friend got back on and sent us this message:
wtf this is im not a literary essay
Apparently, he’d never debated in print. He chastised us for using capitals, punctuation, and proper spelling.
I’ve been bawled out for my perpetual use of the written word before. Someone I worked with suggested that important discussions, and discussions which require the input of several people, should not occur over e-mail. These discussions, he claimed, should only happen in person. “Why?” I asked. He couldn’t tell me, it was just the way things should be. I was well-behaved, and didn’t ask why we had to do it his way instead of mine.
In my world, just about everything is done by e-mail. Growing up, I used to fight with my mother by taping notes to the newel post. My oldest and dearest friends will resort to (get this) writing a letter by hand when feeling sad, nostalgic, or even ecstatic. A story, a poem, a song; these are the noblest gifts to give and receive.
I despise telephones. I like face-to-face conversations, as long as they don’t involve excessive thinking, emotion, decision-making, etc; I think slowly, and need the processing time print allows. I love seeing friends and family, but prize a letter more.
When i.m.ing, I don’t mind if people use short forms, or forswear capitals. But the choice of words is still vital, if the recipient is to understand precisely what the writer is discussing. When my children i.m. me with, “i’m hungry”, I don’t tend to react; a message saying, “i’m ravenous, and thinking of gnawing on the cat” will likely get me into the kitchen (if only because I’m very fond of the cat).
Voices. The written voice is so… wickedly cool. “hi shelia its peter” is something my son’s quiet, polite, reserved friend would say. “i’m god, worship me” is something my Pan-Galactic Gargle-blaster son would say. My son would also spell my name correctly….
Print leaves a permanent record. Where would history be without written records and accounts? How can the human brain understand progression and change without reviewing written accounts?
I will maintain this position until the day I die: the printed word is of great importance. It doesn’t matter if the printed word is on papyrus, a bathroom wall, the same writing paper it’s been on for 20 years, i.m., or the palm of a sweaty hand; the written word is the best word.