Friday, March 20, 2009

Y and K?

In a meeting last week with members of the university administration, I heard concern and dismay over the increasingly diminished writing skills of undergraduates.

One of the academic deans explained it this way: "My own sons reply to my questions by texting. If the answer is yes, they text me a "Y." If the response is "OK," they send back the letter "K." Apparently it takes too long to type a whole word.

While I've been aware of shortcuts and the briefest of replies, especially from younger people, I admit that I was startled to hear that some exchanges are down to a single letter.

If whole words or entire sentences are too much trouble, are these same "writers" even reading books anymore? Is one "entire" chapter too long? I contemplate this trend, and wonder what sort of chaplaincy activity I might create to combat it. I welcome your ideas, K?


Blogger The Archer of the Forest said...

I refuse to text unless absolutely necessary. I think it makes people's grammar skill atrocious, and it gives people carpal tunnel syndrome.

I mean, for goodness sake, just pick up the phone and call the person. It's quicker than typing out silly texts!

I now return you to your usual programming.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Castanea_d said...

This depresses me. While there are some people out there who read, it seems to be a smaller minority every year. I agree: for many of them, reading even a chapter is too much, and an entire book? Forget it; wait for the movie.

A couple of bits of evidence:

When the LOTR movies came out and Tolkien became popular again, a young college-age woman in our parish of considerable intelligence saw the movies and attempted the book. She didn't make it; it was too hard for her. LOTR is not that hard, and many of us in our first reading of it devoured it in one long gulp.

I used to attend science fiction conventions, and still do on occasion. Fandom for anything but the "media" conventions is getting quite grey; very few young fans show up. Again, SciFi and Fantasy are not, as genres, especially difficult reading.

Implications for the church? We often hear about how the Episcopal Church (and some others) are historic relics, because we are tied to the printed page. Nowadays it tends to be a service booklet rather than the BCP, but either way, it is words on a page. "This is ancient history; it is the Reformation, and Gutenberg, and all that." The new age is one of media and glitz and constant bombardment with visual and aural stimuli. Who needs words on a page?

Who needs the Bible? Boring.

Especially some of the more involved Pauline arguments, or long stretches of OT historical narrative, or Levitical laws, or genealogies. Boring.

Never mind that even these things are God's Word to us, which we neglect at our peril.

I don't see any way around it; Christianity is a religion of the Book. In many places, languages were committed to writing precisely in order that the Scriptures could be put in them and read by (at least some) people -- Ss. Cyril and Methodius, and their Cyrillic alphabet, for example.

Where does that leave us in a time when people are not going to read? I don't know.

9:06 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home