High tech communications gadgets have made it incredibly easy to stay in contact, but have they debilitated our ability to have face-to-face conversation? I would say that digital communication has indeed begun to alter the very structure of language itself. In particular, text messaging has brought about a form of linguistic minimalism out of necessity. Flying fingers can only type so fast, and therefore abbreviations have come to replace full words, sentences, and thoughts.
It's always good to put examples like this into a historical context. It seems to me that text messaging has picked up where slang left off (not that slang is now dead, quite the contrary). Slang of course is the use of made up words in place of proper words. This can actually be a good way to express yourself uniquely. The problem occurs when one begins to slip by replacing the original language with nearly nothing but slang. At this point you lose touch with what you created (a new language), because you begin to forget what you based it off of. You lose the ability to communicate effectively. If you don't know how to convey an idea, then no one can hear what you are saying. At its worst, slang creates islands of people that are cut off from the rest of the population.
Text messaging abbreviations are similar to slang in that they alter language to such a degree that it begins to become difficult to use "big words." Again, this is the problem of linguistic minimalism. Everyone can now communicate instantly, but they are beginning to have trouble conveying complex ideas or emotions. Obviously this has had a dramatic effect on human relationships of all kinds. I've noticed a lot of really derogatory advertising campaigns lately that seem to hint at this breakdown of human communication. Consider the following:
Youths are literally being told to "be stupid." One has to wonder why such ideas are so prevalent today.
Returning to the problem of text messaging and language, it is safe to say that young people are certainly the most adept at texting. In a very real sense this strange new language belongs to them. We always see the world's changes through the lives of the younger generations. WIth the changing means and forms of communication it seems that we are now witnessing the coming of a new form of language. I have written about the prophesied coming of a "living new language" in a past article written about the infamous Georgia Guidestones. It is my feeling that all of these current trends in technology and language are leading up to such an end, and that the direction we are heading in now is not completely organic. That is to say, someone knew that we would end up where we are at today, and they knew it well in advance. The details of text messaging, facebook, etc are trivial compared to the evidence of a fundamentally altered form of human communication.
Because youth in particular are now speaking an entirely different language, a generational divide comes as a consequence. Older folks literally cannot understand what their grandchildren are saying, and vice versa. A culture with generational division is incredibly unstable, because the wisdom and traditions of the past are not passed down via communication between the young and old. We are now living in a society that is being drained of culture. Any and all standards, morals, religions, and traditions are being filtered out. In a world that has no set standards, anything can be made to be acceptable. Our world is being redesigned. A population devoid of any convictions allows this to happen without making a sound.
Texting is a silent language, one that could be said to exist solely inside one's own head. You need not say a word to send a text to a friend. In this sense, we see the breakdown of oral conversation and the rise of something entirely different. Indeed it seems as though the brain-to-brain communication made possible through technology that transhumanists incessantly talk about is already taking form. One can literally see conversation being reduced on a daily basis. It is not uncommon to see people in public with their heads down and their attention fixed upon their smart phone. They are often texting. Sometimes people will actually text each other while being close enough to actually speak to one another. In this case, the silent language of texting takes precedent over spoken words. Have you ever tried to get the attention of someone who is living within their smart phone? It is extremely difficult.
So where are we heading? The transhumanists say that a digitally connected hive mind is coming, and that we will literally begin living within virtual worlds. These concepts are incredibly serious, and we should all be talking about them now. The idea of a hive mind connotes a wonderful evolution from individuality to a collective identity. The ideal is to connect disparate intellects in order to enhance them, and merge them into a superintelligence/ super-consciousness. So what's the matter with this idea? One needs to look at the actual process involved in realizing such ideals. We already are a digitally connected population. How have our communication skills been effected by this? Are we losing touch with our language? Are complex ideas being exchanged, or are we merely observing and repeating? Are we living inside our own heads (together), and what are the consequences of this? Is a new religion being cryptically promoted all around us?
The answers to such questions cannot be conveyed well via text messaging.