In an America where all you seem to hear about is our economy and our armed and civil conflicts, it is sometimes helpful to revisit grievous times of the past - to read the thoughts of those who have endured if only simply to endure. You do this to take in some perspective of human experience, some sense of nationality and it is good. But shouldn't we be able to find strength in our own time, in our own words?
I'm not saying there are no great writers today, it just seems like the general populations of the past had the ability to write well, which is something to be desired today if you've ever read a blog.
Take the Civil War. Thousands of men and women recorded their insights and emotions, with an eloquence and, if not flowery, stately candor in their correspondence.
Of course, the Union and the Confederacy's strife were of a magnitude far greater than ours by proximity and scale, thus involving more people in events out of the ordinary than our struggles do today. This perhaps gives us a leisurely disposition toward our expression in words.
The decline in writing must have come when everyone learned to type. Words now are common and often, holding no majesty. Words upon paper are blocks pressed on by a machine sitting next to a desk, not a flowing imprint of individuality.
Writing is a tradition we've allowed ourselves to relinquish. An unfortunate side effect is perpetually dumbing down our language.
In an introductory journalism courses, I was told to "write as if you were writing for a third-grader." I understand the importance of clarity in journalism, but couldn't we at least pander to a grade where the kids have studied the language more complex than "the quick fox jumped over the lazy dog"?
Twitter and Facebook have not helped. These sites and others have given everyone the ability to share worthless bits of information that if kept to oneself, would never be considered worthy of repetition. It allows one to let everything out without a thought, which, perhaps, never comes. If it did, there would probably be less posts about what you had for lunch or how your nap was. In 140 characters or less.
Abbreviations and acronyms have never been so popular. Sure there were a lot of them for all the work programs during the FDR presidency, but now we have acronyms for commonly used phrases or actions. LOL. ROFL. BRB. OMG.
Have we become too connected for expressive speech to be useful? Too informed for sentiment? Too "on-the-go" to write complete sentences? Could it be that written and spoken word is slowly devolving until we reach the most efficient means of communication with chemical signals amplified from brain to brain, our final utterances low grunts?
Um, that would be pretty cool actually . Brain telepathy FTW.