Digital Communications: Art or Science?

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Opinion Piece by Jackie Brook 

Opinion of the Author do not necessarily represent those of AMP3 PR

Never mind the fact that this is being written by someone that works in public relations.

Never mind the fact that I’ve had years of training in writing, editing, grammar, composition, theory, and practice.

Never mind the fact that yesterday I beat my older brother in a ferocious game of Scrabble for the first time EVER.

None of that makes me better at communicating with other people (especially not with my brother whom I beat at Scrabble for the first time ever) than anyone else.

But I want to take some time out to examine how we communicate and whether or not it even works.

So, let’s break it down:

AIM/TXT Speak –

To me, personally, this is the most treacherous of all types of communication.  UR, OMG, plz, sry… It’s an abomination of literacy, is what it is.

What is difficult about adding the Y and O to U?  Why aren’t commas acceptable in a text message?  Is hitting the Shift button too much to ask of someone?

Now, I’m completely guilty of the other extreme: I use a semi-colon when necessary (it’s just so under-used and SO lovely; how can I not use it?).

The texting and IMing fad/trend/lifestyle has gotten so out of control that our children’s education is now at stake.  When I was in school, my papers were written on DOS computers, and we had no spell/grammar check.

Now, people are rallying to get rid of spelling tests because they find them obsolete and a waste of educational resources that could be allotted to other areas of interest, such as…

The Cleansing of Our Vernacular –

In school, we used to have birthday parties for kids with Munchkins, milk, and no homework for the Birthday Kid.  Nowadays, if you can have a birthday party in class (and some schools won’t let you because not everyone has a birthday party and they don’t want to make the different – read, “poor” – kids feel bad), then you can’t have anything with peanuts (allergies), sugar (ADD), etc.

I’d be damned if I were going to celebrate my 10th birthday with some fruit, yogurt, and granola parfaits.

But what does that have to do about communicating?

Well, much like birthday parties are being removed from practice, they’re also being removed from textbooks (for the reason stated above).  Same goes for all the fun food you’d see at birthday parties, like hotdogs, soda, cakes, or anything else that isn’t deemed “nutritious.”

Other key terms that are too offensive for use in our daily education rotation?

Snowman.  Why?  It’s sexist.  Start saying “Snowperson.”

Same goes for “Founding Fathers.”  Now it’s “The Framers.”

Mt. Rushmore?  You’ll have to go to South Dakota (or online) to learn about it since textbooks don’t want to propagate male-dominance by talking about the man-laden structure.

Put that “Senior Citizen” to bed by 8pm because that’s ageist.

“Jungle” is now “rain forest” (seriously, what the hell?) and the “Devil” no longer exists (ed. To me, this is the most disturbing removal.  Some pain-in-the-ass kid, like me when I was young, could easily point out that by removing the Devil from textbooks, we’re taking away that wholly engrained dichotomy of good v. evil.  Without one, the other cannot exist.  I just want to know, was “God” removed, too, in an effort to keep from offending Agnostics? Or Pastafarians?)

Political correctness is trumping historical accuracy.  How can we accurately communicate (the mistakes of) today for preservation in the future tomorrow if we can accurately describe it?

Think I’m kidding?  Try gentrifying this: Jackie had her birthday party at Mount Rushmore in the devilishly cold winter (even though she would have preferred a jungle safari); the best part was that since her grandparents couldn’t get a senior citizen rate on their flight, the Founding Fathers made snowmen to stand in.”

Rhetoric –

I loves me some rhetoric. Anyone who knows me knows that I love rhetoric.

But, I’ll be the first to admit that we have an abusive relationship; I use and abuse rhetoric to, essentially, break the will of others around me.  Mostly when it comes to arguments/proving points.

And that’s why it’s a little bitter for me to note it as an ineffective means of communicating.

How so?

When you’re constantly playing word games, strategically arranging your thoughts, or looking to poke semantic holes in someone’s argument, your cause gets lost in the process.  Isn’t it counterintuitive to try and find a way to mask your communications?

Think about political speeches and debates (as if you weren’t already planning the menu for your Biden-Palin debate party tomorrow night…): so often, our leader say SO much, but 95% of it is fluff and creative maneuvering.

Once you get down to the brass tacks of any speech, you’ll often find that they’re rusted and in need of maintenance.

Rhetoric has it’s place, and I will contest till the day I die that it’s an art form (I spent a good part of college arguing that point), but I can’t say that it makes for efficient or effective communication.

Plain, Ol’ Ignorance –

Whether you’ve got a relative, or know someone with a relative that’s said, “If they’re in America, let ‘em speak American” is a plague for us.

Forgive my gross generalizations (and possible stereotyping), but embracing the difference of others is half the battle for communication.  Perhaps it’s this fundamental reason that we don’t have a Congress that can come to a consensus as how to best alleviate struggling American’s needs.

Tolerance is key if you’re looking to communicate effectively, given that no one cares for the opinion of someone that seems irrational, bigoted, or otherwise unlikeable.

I guess that communicating is neither art nor science, but rather common sense.
Be clear, concise, pointed, and honest.

Otherwise, I vote that you just don’t talk.

Jackie for

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