The evolution of human communication:
In high school it is now considered weird to call someone on the phone. Now they communicate with each other by texting short sentences. After discussing this with a few high school students, I spoke to a school principal who shared with me that children are loosing the ability to communicate in full, articulate, sentences. AP English is seeing a decline in students. Teachers remark that the writing skills of the younger generations are deteriorating. Think of it this way; in the beginning we wrote each other long letters to communicate with each other. A great deal of our history, and our understanding of what occurred, comes from letters that were written from one person to another. Then came the phone. For the first time in history we could verbally talk to someone without him or her being next to us. We could talk for hours as long as they lived within our area code. If they did not, we had to pay a per minute charge. So, letter writing never went away because it was too expensive to verbally talk to someone who did not live near us. We also lost touch with people more easily, which pared down the number of people to which we kept in contact. This kept our extended social circle at a minimum, making letter writing less time consuming. Then came the Internet. For the first time we could type our letters and email long distances for free (except for the per minute dial-up fee). As email address became permanent, our extended social network grew as we began to stay in contact with people who would have otherwise dropped out of our lives due to distance. This was also when we began spending several hours in internet chartrooms where we held full conversations with complete strangers who lived all over the country. This replaced the “pen-pal” (a person one wrote to for fun that was neither a friend or family member). Then we received free long distance nighttime and weekend minutes for our cell phones. It was at this time that long distance letter writing and long email writing began to diminish. For, if we timed it right, we could hold long conversations with our long distance loved ones for no additional cost. With the advent of texting, we could send short messages and reminders to people. Because texts cost extra money (up to ten cents each), people did not do it very often. Then, in the mid 2000s we were granted the freedom to call anyone at anytime at no additional charge. Emails became a way of sending information rather than a means for personal communication. Texting became cheaper and letter writing became something people did on birthdays… if they didn’t send an E-Card. As phones developed into personal computers, we could text long, drawn out, messages that were no longer chopped if they were too long.
In short, within twenty years, our society stopped writing to each other. Now, the average high school student uses short syllable word combinations to communicate with each other via texting. We are just beginning to see the side-effects of unlimited internet use, unlimited phone use, and unlimited texting. While most of those in their 20s and older developed at least a minor skill for writing, they did so by practicing on each other when they were younger. The younger generation is not developing the skill for written person-to-person communication. Unfortunately, it won’t be until their 20’s or 30’s when we see how this loss will effect their generation’s ability to communicate with each other.
When was the last time you wrote someone something that was longer than a text?