Like everything else in modern life, communication has sped up and continues to accelerate. According to Professor Debra Nussbaum, a professor of journalism at Rowan University, texting surpassed the number of phone calls six years ago. Tweets, those 140-character bits of communication, add to the speed.
Twitter.com says that Twitter is "the fastest, simplest way to stay close to everything you care about." Fast and simple is best today. Even E-mail is passé.
Anyone who knows a 30-something’s communication habits, Nussbaum writes, is not surprised at these facts. As a parent of three 30-somethings, I can attest to Nussbaum’s facts. E-mails get, at best, nonchalant (if any) response from our kids. A text on the other hand is responded to immediately. Receiving a real letter … on paper … mailed in an envelope with stamp … warrants a celebration — a "red letter day" to be a bit redundant. Even that old-fashioned term gets from most 30-something readers (if there are any) of this column a "huh? What the heck is a red letter day?"
To be fair, we do get an occasional phone call from our children, mostly so the grandkids can say hello to Poppa and Grandma. But add Facebook and other social networking sites to texts and tweets, and telephone calls may be passé too, going the way of dinosaurs. And the post office.
The Twitter website gushes "you can discover a lot in a little (140 character) space!" In fact, the Twitter folks may not be too far off in their gushing. The best writing is that which is concise and absent of unnecessary fluff. I can’t say (or write) that I have mastered the "lack of fluff" pedigree of outstanding writers to the degree I’d like.
But practice makes perfect. Consequently, I will write my next several columns in a Twitter-like method, using only 140 or fewer "words" (vice characters), including this column, starting with the next paragraph. I’m using 140 "words" and not "characters" in this task because I admit as a writer that I Iack the ability to actually complete a cogent, complete, and thought-provoking column using only 140 "characters." So here goes. In honored remembrance of the death of letters, emails, phone calls, long, newsy conversations, and one day even 750-word (my normal) columns in newspapers, here’s my Twitter-like 140-word column for this week. I hope it’s cogent and thought-provoking.
Driving to work last week on the "Carteret-Craven Speedway," otherwise known as Nine Mile Road, the driver of the dualie was driving too slowly. Passing him was impossible due to opposing traffic. At 45 mph, I thought disparagingly, "you’re driving like my grandmother."
Laughing at myself, I remembered neither my maternal nor paternal grandmother drove. Ever.
Now I’m married to a grandmother. She drives. Know a woman today under 65 who doesn’t? In just two generations, a near reversal occurred.
Here’s another. Less than 50 years ago, tobacco was king. A federal educational campaign then warned of marijuana’s evils. "A good girl until she lights a reefer." "Sin. Debauchery. Insanity. Smoke of Hell."
Today, tobacco’s the devil. Marijuana? Cool. Now. Edgy. Moving toward legality. A massive change in just two generations.
The only sure thing? Change. And it’s accelerating pace.
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.