That’s not how i.m. goes

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 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.

One response to “That’s not how i.m. goes

  1. You are undeniably, unquestionably correct.

    Every year time magazine has it’s Person of the Year. That distinction has gone to men, women, even once to the The PC. But, one person has been honored as the Person of the Millenium.

    Great thinkers, writers, politicians, artists, entertainers, musicians were all asked to compile the top 100 most influential People of the Millenium. The lists were varied and interesting. They wove in and out according to the age, culture and background of the lister.

    Then when it got to the top 10, the lists started to polarize by race and religion, which is what one would expect. Then something amazing happened, towards the top of the list, one name appeared uncontested.

    Johannes Gutenberg.

    With the invention of his movable press and thus making the written word available to all, he changed the world.

    This proves the power of the words in writing without even addressing which books should top the list. The words themselves changed the world.

    You may not realize how profound your words are since they began as a harmless conversation between family. But, you could not be more correct.

    Please continue writing and I will continue reading.



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