Oh, boy, I really want to write a follow-up to yesterday’s post and explore it a little more (in shorter, digestible, Web-sized tidbits, just like we like ’em, right?).But I have to post this urgent link. In fact, I hope you can still access this article from the Wall Street Journal. It’s entitled, “Thx for the IView! I Wud [heart] to Work 4 U!! ;)” (by Sarah E. Needleman, p. D1, D4, The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, July 29, 2008).Quick! Click over fast and check it out, because I think you can only get it when it’s the current paper (Tuesday).If you can’t get it, here’s a summary:The article talks about young people accustomed to text-messaging as their primary mode of communication using emoticons and text-shorthand when sending thank-you notes to prospective employers. An “increasing number of job hunters are just too casual when it comes to commmunicating about career opportunities in cyberspace and on mobile devices.”These faux pas can be “instant candidacy killers because they hint at immaturity and questionable judgment.” It’s too informal, according to some staffing specialists. It’s unprofessional. Hastily composed thank-yous sent via mobile phones suggest “an on-the-fly mentality, as if the applicants haven’t taken time to think about why they want the job or why they are saying thanks.” The potential employer is still digesting the meeting when the note appears on his or her Blackberry.
One time a candidate rushed to “friend” the potential employer on her personal Facebook page.Moves like these can feel as if the candidate is infringing on personal space.But it may simply be a cultural divide, reflecting an age gap in technology use, says an author named David Holtzman.Others see a shift in workplace communication, as “textspeak” is gaining acceptance. Soon, they think, it will be perfectly appropriate. Text messages are, after all, short and to the point.Thank you notes, even if sent electronically, should be composed in a formal style, like a traditional letter would be. This reassures the employer that as a new employee, the candidate would interact similarly with clients–avoiding textspeak and sticking with a professional tone and style.So this article brings to mind a few broader questions:
- How often do you text?
- When we text, are we really communicating? If so, how effective is it?
- Describe heavy texters’ ability to compose thoughtful, grammatically correct pieces (essays, letters, blog posts). Does it improve their communication, does quality decrease, or does it have a neutral effect on their formal work, being such a different format?
- How do abbreviations and emoticons in a blog post affect your opinion as a reader?
- Any predictions on whether or not texting will have a positive or negative effect on writing in general? Has it already?
The topic is now open for discussion. The first 10 commenters will receive credit for 20 free AT&T text messages and a chance at a free iPhone.Not really.Maybe I’ll send you a book, instead. And some stationery. And a pen.Wud U luv that?
I [heart] U all!!!!
Beryl Singleton Bissell says
I just found you while researching material for a talk I’ve been asked to give to busy young moms trying to fit God into their lives. I’ve ordered your book “The Contemplative Mom: Restoring Rich Relationship with God . . .” and look forward to reading it.
Concerning your question, I don’t text and neither do the people with whom I communicate. Are we backward? I hope not. Having heard my son describe his 12-year-old daughter’s texting, learning that she can blast through a 1,000 text allotment per month in one week with “Hi! What ya doin” type messages, has convinced me that I most likely will never text.
I prefer to communicate with spoken, handwritten, e-mailed, and snail-mailed words. Although I communicate extensively with readers via e-mail, I’ve begun taking up my pen to write personal letters to special friends. And I send hand-written thank-you’s to the groups that have invited and heard me speak.
When I read a blog and find that it includes emoticons, I cross that blog off my list as fluff. Humor yes, smiley faces no.
And I’d love whatever you choose to send me should I be one of the first to comment, which I am at this present moment.
L.L. Barkat says
As always, you make me laugh. LUV it.
I’m thinking that texting is just another form of communication, like a gesture. A wink. A smile. U know? Also, it can’t be all bad to be communicating. Better than sitting with the headphones on.
Prairie Chick says
Oof. Don’t get me started. People are “communicating” in a sense, by texting, but it’s at the cost of real life, quality communication in many instances. It’s a false sense of connection and distracts people from the “people with skin on” sitting right next to them. I blogged about this recently after a morning of culture shock at the dentist’s office. You can read more of my thoughts here;
personally, I have never sent a text message in my life. Can count how many times I have even *used* a cell phone on two hands, and would WAY rather talk to the person sitting next to me than text someone in a different locale. And people fear homeschooling is going to result in a generation of socially inept citizens… HELLO???!!! Society is becoming largely socially inept for crying out loud. Like I said, don’t get me started.
I text occasionally with one friend because neither of us really like talking on the phone but we want to stay in touch. I think texting can be real communicating, but I don’t think it’s possible to share any deep thoughts that way. As for “heavy texters,” I believe texting is definitely detrimental to the quality of their other communication. One of my teenage relatives, for example, fully believes that “prolly” is a word. It took me awhile to decipher that one — she meant “probably.” The occasional emoticon or “LOL” doesn’t bother me, but I have a hard time translating a full page of “LOLspeak.”
Reading my eleven-year-old daughter’s emails and instant messages always makes me laugh. She has embraced the IM lingo so completely that her messages rarely contain a correctly spelled word. While it makes me laugh–at that age, the kids try hard to be cool, I worry that she’ll forget how to spell if she spends more time communicating in shorthand. Drives me crazy that she has to make an effort to misspell words.
This shorthand of abbreviations, phonetic spellings, and acronyms will definitely have an impact on the language. Before there were dictionaries, spelling was fluid, as you’ll see if you read any old documents such as the Lewis and Clark narratives. We may return to using language that way, which is to spell it the way you want to spell it. Or perhaps we are already there. Hard to stop a moving train.
I’m snooty enough to be proud of the fact that I don’t have a cell phone, that I’ve never typed “LOL” or “ROTFLMAO” in an email, and that I refuse to enable an instant messenger on my computer at home. Just like I used to refuse to use the word “awesome” in the same empty-headed way that kids, what? 15 years ago? started using it to describe things that are less than awesome. At some point in the last couple of years, the word slipped out and I am still peppering my enthusiastic pronouncements with it.
I think that means that I will eventually type “LOL” in a message, darn it.
Uhh, I text message. I find it handy when I don’t have time to talk on the phone, or when I know the recipient is at school or work. I know they will get the message when they have time. It may be slower than talking, but it is faster than leaving voice mails.
It did throw me off the first time I spelled “you” as “u” in a setting other than text messaging. I quickly corrected it. 🙂 <—Means I’m not a serious gal, LOL.
Beryl: Hey, you just won an analog telephone and a stack of lined paper! Aw, I’m joking. Does anyone other than my 80yo dad have an analog phone circa 1963? Well, maybe I could find a proper gift, like some cute notecards or something. I think it’s the great bloggy giveaway somewhere else on the Internet, so we can pretend like it’s part of that.
As for the meat of your comment, I’ll bet people are delighted to hear from you via snail mail. It’s still fun to get cards and letters, but few people send them these days. And it’s good to get some input regarding icons in blogs. I’m curious what people think of that. I tend not to, unless it’s for a specific purpose (like today’s, to illustrate the topic of the post). Nice to meet you! And I hope The Contemplative Mom is helpful to you as you prepare your talk. That’s exactly the point of the book–finding time in our busy mom-lives to spend quality time building a *relationship* with the living God who knows and loves us.
LLBarkat: That’s true. Using icons and connecting, however limited, is more than sitting and staring at a Nintendo screen or television set or simply staring into space with the headphones on. It’s an attempt to reach out to a human being and make a coffee date or check in. I feel like I should end with a stream of textspeak, but I don’t even know what to employ…I’m an old fogey. 🙁
Prairie Chick: You have really given this some thought, haven’t you! Your and LL’s comments have me thinking maybe there are these steps of connection in order of preference (or of what’s ideal or healthy):
* In person, fully engaged in conversation, making eye contact, listening to understand and asking follow-up questions to enrich the conversation.
* In person, less engaged, but connecting on some level at least. Maybe things are surface-y, but it’s better than sitting and staring.
(this one might be in #2 spot…I’m not sure what’s better)
* A well-composed letter that uses complete sentences and carefully worded thoughts and opinions in hopes of being fully understood and anticipating a similarly engaged response in the same format.
* A well-composed e-mail with the same content.
* A phone call (maybe this is preferable to the letter and e-mail?) with good questions and replies in a healthy conversation.
* A text message to check in with someone.
* A meaningless phone call that wastes someone’s time.
* A meaningless text to say “whaddup?”
Now we’re getting to super lousy options:
* People in the same room staring at a screen (TV, game, computer), not talking or looking at each other. No connection.
I might toss all that in a post to see how people would order those. You’ve got me thinking!
Nichole: I prolly agree with you that texting is good for some people who hate the phone. Seriously, “prolly”? Yikes! I appreciate all of your ideas on this, though–you seem to use it as a tool when it works, but see its weaknesses, as well. I’m learning about it. My kids are in the age range where most peers are already texting like it’s going out of style, but we haven’t purchased phones for anyone yet. When they have them, and when they have the option to text, I’ll probably learn to stay in touch with them. We’ll see…
Jeanie: What an academic thought, that language is fluid. Unlike the French with their Academy or whatever it is that “preserves” the language and determines what will be official, American English will continue to morph (“morph” being, of course, an example of evolving and fluid language development). So interesting.
Jeanie: I hear you. I still resist, but, you know, sometimes “awesome” is handy to toss out now and then. I used LOL a little when I first understood what it was. Then it got old. I’m a fast-enough typist that it’s not too much of a burden to type out the actual phrase “laughing out loud.” So I do.
Regan: Are you a hip young 20-something? Or a hip young 30-something? It’s none of my business and you don’t have to answer the question. I just wonder how much age figures into it. But, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I know that a lot of moms have started to text to stay in touch with their kids. That may be what converts me. In the meantime, I still type y-o-u. When I have to tap out words on a keypad in that cumbersome text-y way, I’ll switch to U because that is significantly faster and easier on the thumb.
I’m in total agreement with you, Ann. Great article by the way. I’ve seen and read many pieces on nearly the same topic – this rising generation is so insulated within themselves and the way that they do things – young, hip, fast – they have little clue as to what the rest of the world, i.e. everyone over 30, considers appropriate. I remember watching a piece about how some workplaces are actually having to change the way they do business (more casual days, contests, rec. rooms, etc.) in order to get/keep employees these days.
I text infrequently, but when I do I text in complete sentences. Don’t think I’d ever text using the new spell, U no? (Just kidding!)
By the way, your offer of paper and pen was very enticing. I so remember having pen pals as a young girl and what it was like to receive REAL letters in the mail and to sit down and write real letters in return. Some things are worth putting the effort into, and I think writing – whole sentences and thoughts, sharing pieces of our heart or just what happened today, in a letter or in a journal – it one of the best things to preserve.