I may be one of a handful of people who really enjoyed diagramming sentences. I just loved how the words fell together in such a logical manner. To me, it all made perfect sense.
Nouns. Verbs. Prepositions. Adjectives. Adverbs. Every word had a job to perform (subject, object, predicate, etc) and a proper place in the sentence. When I finished with my diagram I felt like I had performed serious sentence surgery and the world was better off because of my performance. I’d go around diagramming in my head as the words floated into place.
But like I said, I was in the minority and eventually this method of teaching was deleted from the curriculum. I’m fairly certain there weren’t any tears shed by our English teachers. Or any students standing on picket lines threatening to stop going to school unless diagramming was reinstated.
But what about the words themselves? How did they feel being cast aside, having to fight for their proper place in between all those punctuation marks?
Well, they did quite well for years. For decades, actually. Until – the cyberspace revolution. And then it seemed as if overnight, all those wonderful nouns and verbs had been replaced by abbreviations, some even reduced to one single letter.
It’s like a foreign language out there in the world of e-mails and texting. TTYT. LOL. IMO. BTW. Everyday I get an email with some sort of code that I can’t understand. And believe me, I try to figure it out. I make up what I think the letters stand for and then hope that I’m wrong. How dare they say that?
And I’ve tried to write my emails with complete sentences, remembering those old diagramming rules.
But once I learned how to text, I realized why abbreviations are being used. It’s so much easier and thus quicker than typing out the entire word.
But why do we feel the need to make things easier? And why do we need this instant gratification of texting in the first place?
Cell phones are bad enough. With everyone plugged in like some space alien talking to themselves as they grocery shop or stand in line at the bank.
It used to be that we left work for lunch and bathroom breaks, but now work just trots along with us.
Where r u
And with texting comes a whole new set of anxieties. How come he didn’t answer right away? Oh, God…did he misunderstand what *I* texted? Was she being sarcastic? Or mean? With texting we lose the intimacy of a conversation, of voice inflections and pauses. Of giving a word a certain meaning in the way we linger over the syllables.
Text interpretation used to mean understanding what was in our school books. Now it means deciphering our instant messages. I can’t help but wonder if we’re opening up a whole new world for the psychotherapists.
But of course, I’m not one to be left behind. I’m going to keep up with all the new technology. It’s the only way to stay young.
So for now, this baby boomer is saying TTYL. The best thing we can do – is what we did in our youth – KOT
Keep On Truckin’
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Janie Emaus believes that when the world is falling apart, we're just one laugh away from putting it together again. She writes about how life is NOW compared to THEN, with her special blend of funny and sweet. She is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, and the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love. And she has an essay in the Best Selling humor anthology, You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth. She is a staff writer at In The Powder Roomand blogs frequently for The Huffington Post. She is proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. To learn more about Janie visit her blog www.theboomerrants.com and her website www.JanieEmaus.com.