Modern communication. (Insert obligatory tut or eye-roll here if you are over 35 of age). It’s a funny old thing, eh, all the ways now we can communicate? And when I say funny, I mean not particularly amusing quite a lot of the time. And by old, I mean new. Look, it’s patently obvious I struggle with the old style communication – you know, words on paper – so I am bound to have an ambivalent relationship with all things modern when it comes to the exchange of thoughts, messages or information. And if you think I suddenly sound all erudite, that’s because I looked that last bit up. On an online dictionary, of course – I am not a total luddite.
The usual banshee cry of those too old to be comfortable bed-fellows with the ways of modern communication (and I am with them: have you ever rolled over in your sleep and had the corner of an iPad puncture your spleen? It is not pleasant) is that there is simply too much of it. But quantity, I can cope with. It’s the quality that makes my blood boil and my jaw clench until my teeth crack.
Take Facebook. One of my particular bug bears is the sort of communication that is both utterly pointless and wearisome in the extreme: “I have a cold.” Sometimes followed by an inevitably onomatopoeic word to emphasize their displeasure: “grrr”. Why? Why do they feel the need to share this with everyone, including someone who they met once and then friended on Facebook in a slightly weird, over-familiar way? If you have nothing news-worthy to say, go back to picking your toe nails. I don’t give a monkey’s if you have a cold: you are boring me. If you accidentally sever your arm in a freak letterbox incident, or poke your eye out in an argument with a fondue set, then by all means, talk about it. Heck, post some photos, I’d take a peek. Otherwise, just don’t.
And then there are those who know they have nothing interesting to say, so employ the Eastenders tactic of a cliff hanger: “I am so excited!” or “You won’t believe what just happened!!!” (They often over-use exclamation marks in a vain attempt to hide the fact that actually, nothing of note has happened whatsoever). You know as they type that post that are imagining the ‘duf duf’ Eastender drums, as they eagerly await the flood of equally excited enquires as to what has happened. Except there are no replies. Because anyone who cliff-hangs on Facebook has no friends and may well be pushed off that cliff for good, into a tedious abyss of other people all talking and saying nothing.
The other misdemeanour on Facebook – or Twitter, for that matter – is posting photos of your kids. Again and again. With captions such as ‘so cute!’. Really? I think she looks a little bit like a frog, and I have just wasted three seconds of my life scrolling past that picture. Time I can barely afford, what with all these other posts showing Jonny’s first steps, or Francesca’s painting “masterpiece” that reminds me of a dirty cell protest. I think there should be a one-kid-one-photo-a-year rule. Had a baby? Post one picture, and that’s your lot for the next 364 days. You may, however, apply for exemption should you live on a different continent from your immediate family. I am not totally unreasonable.
Much etiquette seems to be missing from modern communication. The main culprit is the misuse of the cc button. I am not even sure it is required any more. All it seems to say is that you are writing an email to someone who is important enough to receive it, but publically making the point that all those plebs in the cc bar are slightly inferior in status. And then, just to compound the misery some idiot replies with a jokey quip…. TO ALL. And seeing as one of them has done it, this opens the flood gates to a load more people joining in the email jollity with even more unfunny comments… to all. STOP IT. Look, it makes me so angry, I have had to resort to capital letter shouting.
And what the heck is wrong with a bit of punctuation on a text message? If you used Alphabetti spaghetti to text, where apostrophes and semi colons are in pretty short supply, I could forgive you. But there is the whole gamut of punctuation to choose from at the touch of a button, and it is roundly ignored. You know that every time you miss an apostrophe out, a fairy is tortured, dont you? Oops, there goes another one.
This article first appeared in the super-doper Epping-based magazine Magascene (www.magascene.net).