It’s been said that “just when you think you’ve learned all the answers, somebody changes the questions”. In much the same way, just when you think you’re keeping up with changes, you find out you’re really not.
I thought I was keeping up with technological advancements. My job requires understanding of what I believe is a great deal of technology. (I’m a technologist after all!) But email, texting, IM ing? I haven’t paid much attention to these cyber communications. I figured that texting and IM ing were fads for kids. The present generation will outgrow this and the next generation will do the next new and different thing. I really didn’t have any time for it.
However, occasionally I did some emailing.
One afternoon I sat down to answer my daughter, Alysha’s email. Our relationship had been rocky recently and I believed she saw me as ‘old’ and ‘judgmental’. I wanted Alysha to know that even though I’m old enough to have grown kids, I’m still ‘cool’ so I decided to streamline my communication by using cute acronyms and not using capital letters. (IMHO), I thought that’s what you were supposed to do!
What a surprise I got (PDQ) with her answer!
Alysha wrote, “I READ YOUR EMAIL AND I KNOW WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO SAY!”
Good, I thought, that’s what communication’s all about, isn’t it? And incidentally, I thought she had ‘Caps Lock’ stuck on. (!)
“APPARENTLY, YOU’RE TOO BUSY FOR ME!” she continued.
What? I am? I’m so confused - I didn’t say that (AFAIK).
“You’ve always been ‘The Grammar Queen’” Alysha accused.
I have? (How long has she thought that? I wondered.) This is a bad thing, right? I always thought it was a gift or a skill, but apparently it’s an affliction, an obsession. I admit I have been known to choke on a grammatical error in a written work to the degree that I can’t appreciate the work’s point while that error is jumping up and down in fluorescent colors before my eyes, but she calls me “The Grammar Queen”?
Alysha’s email went on, “I know it’s harder for you to write incorrectly than to use good grammar, so I’m really hurt by your message.”
Whoa! What have I done? I thought I was using the right ‘language’. I thought I was being ‘cool’. (But I was glad she took ‘Caps Lock’ off so I could concentrate!)
When did I get out of touch? Am I ‘old’ and ‘judgmental’? Have I closed my mind?
I thought about all of this and it was hard, but I finally realized that the problem is more what I didn’t do than what I did. I didn’t take time or interest in things that are important to my daughter.
I have no idea how to text message. I send email only occasionally and I thought instant messaging and emailing were pretty much the same thing.
I didn’t show Alysha that I am ‘cool’, I showed her that I’m a lot like she accused me of being. It’s time to change.
Rutherford B. Hayes once said of the telephone, “It’s an amazing invention - but who would ever want to use one?”
Similarly, Thomas J. Watson said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”.
Cyber communication. A passing fad? I think it’s time for this “Grammar Queen” to learn some “cyber grammar”!
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