Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Could one of the reasons for how little we actually communicate these days be the means by which we communicate? I remember from my youth, and early adulthood, in depth conversations about how and why things are they way they are; conversations beyond crude partisan hackery. Conversations that have mostly gone away. Seems an increasing number of people can’t express beyond the most simple; even crass, level.

By Ken Carman

I think I noticed it first on the road, on tour, when it became obvious people weren’t paying attention, would do anything not to use their brakes, and demand that everyone get out of Inspectiontheir way. I was one of the first in both families: mine and Millie’s, who got a cell phone. You know, one of those big bag phones that never dropped a call IN REGION (yeah, that was a thing) and had great sound quality. The introduction of small cells and flips is when the new way to communicate started becoming a way to miscommunicate, and became outright dangerous. It also started dumb-ify-ing America.
Everyone was on the phone and that’s where their attention went. I commented on the net that I thought being on a cell while driving was more dangerous than drunk driving. You would think every poster was extreme MADD member the blow back was so bad. I tried to point out that at least the drunk was usually TRYING to pay attention, as bad as they were at it. But MADD-like posters would have no part of that.
Then they introduced texting. BIG IMPROVEMENT!???
NOT.
Made it worse.
Why is it every time we get some new form of communications it make things worse? About 10 years ago, or more, I was running a homebrew competition. I was trying to get two of my sponsors together with a bigger one. They worked, at best, a mile from each other. The BIG guy would send out E-mails two or three paras long, mostly simple sentences and the two young Turks would have none of that. They kept complaining.
I kept trying to understand. OK, I started as an English/Ed major in college, so maybe the sentences were too long, too complex? No. Concepts too complex? No. Words you need to have at least had English 101 college course to understand? No. No, the problem was he was going beyond some 2, very simple, sentence limit. I ended up driving back and forth to get all three in line with what we were doing.
I see this all over the place. On Facebook I have been chided for long posts: even 2 paragraphs. People want simple talking point catch phrases. Something that could be texted, tweeted or meme-d. I’ve even been chided for having anything beyond one simple sentence in a meme.
Note: I don’t do Twitter. If Facebook bothers me, why would I do Twitter: a platform, from what I have been told, attracts too many twits?
I have come to the conclusion, increasingly, upcoming generations can’t read, have an inability to grasp complex thought when expressed in sentences, mostly because they exhibit increasing ADHD-like behavior. But it’s not that they’re actually autistic or have ADHD. They simply don’t want to. If they have the ability now maybe their children won’t even have that.
I was headed towards being an English teacher in my early years. My last year I changed majors because there was a glut of English teachers, and I hated my department whose head thought the only good lit was written in the 1800’s or earlier, and whose sense of grammar rules was positively archaic. So, after well over 20 credits per semester, I graduated with a Communications/Mass Media/Liberal Arts degree.
English, Education, Journalism, Radio, Communications/Mass Media, the Music Business at Belmont in Nashville: all have served me well. For example: this column was started in 1972. I was on the radio for a while. Part of my career was writing my own shows, songs and promoting them. Including my stage experience I patched together all this into a 30 year career.
A lesson for youth: no matter how many changes you make they can be patched together, creatively, into a business, a career, a working lifetime of joy. Unlike changes in our communication platforms. Seems the more “improvements” we make the less we actually communicate actual substance, things of actual importance. It’s like all the time saving devices. Like I mention in my recently published book : Autocide, time saving devices rarely save much time and may end us.
Yet, I despair… how many of today’s teens have actually read this far? If I had become a teacher could any of them write a decent paper no matter how well I taught my courses? How many could write a decent critique? Or has texting meme-ing, fancy phones, social platforms gutted basic literacy from the upcoming generations? Will further “advancements” make all this worse? Will future communications lower itself to the level of everything being some uninventive version of a raised middle finger?
How much closer will we get to being an Idiocracy?
However, these things HAVE helped with creating the current state of political discourse: hate mongering, simplemindedness and framing: another word for insult.
None of this bodes well.

-30-

 Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for almost 50 years, first published in fall of 1972. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
©Copyright 2022
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all rights reserved

By Ken Carman

Retired entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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