Out of Con-text!

In this modern day of technological advances that seem to be emerging at break-neck speed, is it any wonder that it’s very difficult to keep up? All of these options to become more ‘with it’ on the social scene. But many of these options don’t really promote a social atmosphere at all. (see earlier post: https://sporterhall.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/where-is-the-social-in-media/) Press a button for this and another for that. All of these varying options for modes of communication, leave little to the imagination and even less to good old fashioned face-to-face and voice-to-voice contact.

I recall when emailing first became a big deal. I pretty much went with the flow and joined in because this is what everyone was doing. If I wanted to be in contact with others, I had to get on the bandwagon and use this form of communication also. Eventually, emailing became as easy and effortless for me as speaking directly with someone, as it was once a big part of my work. But I couldn’t help but notice that there was a very crucial piece missing to this new fad of interaction. I couldn’t see the face(s) of those I was corresponding with via email. I couldn’t hear the tone in their voice(s), or lack thereof. During some of the written interactions, I wondered if the person had intended to come across as strongly as their words projected or if I was simply misinterpreting their words?

Then along came cell phones and text messaging. Now, I will admit, I was not a fan of text messaging in the beginning. I could not bring myself to a rational conclusion as to why someone would prefer to spend time typing a message into a tiny phone -vs- speaking with the person directly. It just didn’t seem practical to me. I quickly noticed that people could practice avoidance very easily with this somewhat incognito method of communication. A person could decline an invite with a quick impersonal text. They could project a different persona than the true person behind the text. But once again, I found myself getting on board this train, because this is how most people rolled…at least those that I communicated with. Over time, I became very comfortable with text messaging, but I still didn’t necessarily like it.

I can’t tell you how many times something has been misconstrued or taken out of con-text as a result of texting. Just like with emailing, you can’t hear the person’s tone, so you look for it in the words they use in their written correspondence. The tone can be mistaken and things can become very messy simply because people no longer interact on a more personal level. Everyone is texting it seems. You walk down a busy street and you literally see people walking, as if in a trance, staring at their cell phones as if their lives depended on it. And sometimes, I think it does. What did people do before the emergence of cell phones and emails? We picked up the phone and called people and arranged face-to-face meetings and social gatherings. Nowadays, you can go to a social gathering, and find a great number of people on their cell phones! Every time I go out to dinner, I see a handful of people on their cell phones. But wait a minute. The whole purpose of getting together is to be social, right? But people are on their cell phones, being unsociable.

Overall, I try and use text messaging only when direct communication is impossible at the time. I will often interrupt the back and forth messaging and just call the person out of frustration. And nothing is more maddening, in my opinion, than when a person stops responding…they just drop out of sight leaving you wondering why they haven’t responded to your text. If you had been on a phone conversation instead, you would know when the conversation ended because you would both have hung up the receivers. Remember that? When I’m out to dinner, I turn my cell phone down so that I can’t hear it. After all, I go out to dinner to interact with a person, not my phone. All that back and forth just seems a bit ridiculous. Or maybe I’m just taking things out of…con-text. What do you think?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

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Cursively Speaking….

 

       

 

The Daily Post recently shared an article called The Lost Art, where it discussed that many people have learned to disconnect from technology’s magnetic pull to reconnect and interact person-to-person. It’s a shame that something as natural as communicating with each other verbally, has fallen under the realm of ‘lost art’. Things have more or less reversed, with non-verbal interaction becoming the rule and not the exception. Text messaging,social media, emails, etc. have all contributed to the building of this wall that now exists between people who now rely mainly on these forms of communication.

Personally, I feel these forms of interaction encourage distance between people. For instance, if you are a person who does not use the internet or use it on a regular basis, than you will surely be lost in technology’s ever-thickening sauce, if you will. Have you ever paid attention to your interaction with people whom you haven’t seen in a while? You both agree to exchange contact information, but it’s no longer phone numbers that you swap. You now exchange email addresses, website links,etc. If you don’t communicate using these technologies, your phone number may be accepted. But did the person ever follow through and call you? I’m willing to bet, probably not.

Communicating face-to-face can definitely be considered a ‘lost art’, especially when one has to disconnect just to reconnect. Readers of this article by the Daily Post were asked to comment on what they felt could fall under the umbrella of ‘lost art’. In response, I shared what I consider to be a ‘ lost art’ that is very near and dear to me; one that took a great deal of my adolescent and adult life to master. My contribution to the conversation of  ‘lost art’ is cursive writing. I commented on my disappointment in finding that this form of writing has pretty much been done away with. Where I live, children are encouraged to print as their main form of writing. The teaching of cursive writing is almost non-existent. Someone else commented and added that cursive writing is mandatory in India and is still very prevalent. I only wish I could say the same for my little corner of the world. There are many reasons why cursive writing, in my opinion, should remain a critical form of writing. For instance, what will happen later in life, when a person has to sign important documents? If a person doesn’t know how to write in cursive, how will they sign their name? Surely printing one’s name will not be an acceptable form of writing in this instance, being that it is not considered a signature. There’s a reason why it’s called a signature. It’s authentic and identifies each individual; a person’s footprint more or less.

I received several replies to my comment. I further stated that cursive writing reflects an individual’s personality as each person’s style of writing is so different; one of the things that make cursive writing a beautiful form of art. I recall when I was in 7th and 8th grade, a classmate of mine had the most beautifully artistic handwriting style. She was left-handed and turned her paper almost upside down with her wrist crooked in the most awkward position. It was amazing that she could produce such artistry with that kind of hand position, but she did. Her handwriting was truly a beautiful thing to see.

Do you remember a time when you had to practice your handwriting on a daily basis? It was most likely one of your consistent homework assignments. I think this may have contributed to the phrase, “practice makes perfect”. There was special paper that had 2 solid parallel lines that ran across the page with a single dotted line that ran between those 2 lines as seen in the picture above. I was taught to allow my lower case letters to touch the dotted line and then come back down. Uppercase letters, you would have to take the letter up to the top solid line and then come back down; you used all 3 lines for these letters. I used to enjoy that so much. How about you?

Recently, there was an issue that I needed to dispute. I was asked to write a letter outlining the situation. Being somewhat bamboozled by the technology blitz myself, I asked, without even a second thought, for an email address that I could email the letter to. I was promptly informed that I needed to send a handwritten letter to this establishment. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised and more than happy to do so. I can’t remember when I’ve been asked to send a handwritten anything anywhere. When you think about it, anyone can compose a letter via text document and sign their name to it. The only personal touch in this case, would be the person’s signature. Handwriting  or cursive writing an entire document breathes life into the words, while allowing you to virtually feel the individual’s personality. You can sometimes tell if a person was angry when they wrote something. The strokes will be very sharp and jagged and the writing seems to scream off the pages at you. If the writing is very neat and legible, you might conclude that the person took care when they composed the correspondence. If the handwriting is fancy and artistic, it may be concluded that the person is creative and expressive and spent considerable time on their presentation in order to get their point across.

All I can say, is that cursive writing doesn’t have to be a ‘lost art’. And if you look hard enough, you will find that it’s alive and well; just waiting to be rediscovered. I enjoy writing in cursive and hope that those that decide on what the teaching curriculum will be, realize it’s value and importance. Cursively speaking… I have a feeling the same people that make these crucial decisions, use cursive writing themselves!

What do you think about this unfortunate loss of artistry?

 

Images: Free Google images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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