Thursday, January 05, 2012

From letters to grunts

Why vocal chords may go the wisdom tooth way as we increasingly interact by means of online grunts...

Once upon a time people living in different places would send each other letters. Maybe once a month, perhaps every fortnight, valuable time was devoted to the penning of what they'd been up to and all the important updates.

Then came the net and letters quickly gave way to emails. By the late 1990s, most people owned an email address, though it's difficult to believe that back then they often consisted of arcane combinations of letters and words like CXC765@spp2network1.dick.ac.uk

The physical ritual of opening a letter may have been on the retreat, but the concept remained nonetheless: suddenly people would spot new emails in their "inbox" folder. If anything, there was a chance to communicate more quickly and more frequently.

Fast forward less than ten years and the concept of "social networks" (read Facebook) rang the death knell for good old-fashioned emails. Private messages became increasingly rickety as less and less was there to be said, given that constant "updates" and "wall pictures" of everybody's latest night out meant little was left to the imagination.

By 2011, with the advent of iPhones and iWhatsits, most "distance" communication turned even more stunted.

Most Facebook interaction now consists of some people constantly publishing statuses (ie "omg my nephew's so cute!....xxxxxxx" or "fucks sake, stinky bloke nxt2me on bus") which is then followed by regular rounds of Facebook friends "liking" them (by simply clicking on a thumbs up button) or, if they feel more dexterous with the keyboard, leaving comments ranging from "wow", "xxx" or "awwwww" to "OMG!".

Who knows. Perhaps the toll of said levels of stunted interaction on human evolution will be such that, in a few centuries, our vocal chords will go the wisdom tooth way and turn out too undeveloped to articulate proper words.

It may be that we even go full circle and return to caveman sounds, with our exchanges (whether in person or online), consisting of thumbs up, "OMG" groans, "lovely" grunts and scratching chk chk sounds emanating from the palate which, of course, will convey a round of "xxxxxxxxxx" in pure Facebook style.

As for the answer to "wat u bin up2" (if we manage to articulate that, that is), we'll just shove a proto-phone in front of our interlocutor's eyes and show them how we pulled faces to the iCamera in a nightclub.

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