Volume 12 Week 5

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Bemoaning the demise of interpersonal communication

At the risk of sounding like an old man who is completely out of touch with the times, I feel a need to vent about the continued decline of our society and the role intepersonal communication, or the lack thereof, has played in that decline.

It’s bad enough that the art of letter writing has gone the way of the Dodo bird, the Great Auk and the Passenger Pigeon. In fact, the last full-length, hand-written letter using pen and ink on paper stationary by Mary Hodges of Beaconsfield, Quebec on June 5, 2016 is now on display as the Museum of Civilization. And Christmas cards, wedding invitations and thank-you cards don’t count.

I’m talking about real letters written in real sentences formed into real paragraphs that are devoid of acronyms like LOL, YOLO, BRB and TYVM.

We have an entire generation of Canadians whose interpersonal com-munications are limited to 140 characters or less.

Worse still, they defer to texting each other rather than actually speaking to one another using the same device they’re texting with – the phone.

There is nothing on this earth that drives me crazier than not being able to call someone’s cell phone and actually talk to them.

Isn’t that why we embraced the advent of the cell phone in the first place? So that we could talk to someone immediately rather than have to leave a message on their answering machine (remember those) and wait for them to get home before returning your call?

Having someone answer their cell phone on the first try has become a rarity. More often then not, the response I get usually comes via text. “What’s up?” is the most common one.

What’s up? Answer your damn cell phone, that’s what’s up.

If I wanted to text you, I would have texted you. Believe it or not, there are some conversations that require more than 140 characters.

The other response I get a lot is “why didn’t you leave a message?” On this point I must admit mea culpa. I am not the greatest message leaver.

I am not total sure why I am loathe to leave a message, except to say that when I call someone it is because I am looking for an answer to an immediate question.

If it is important I will call you back, usually repeatedly and until you finally answer the phone. I’m kind of funny that way.

Getting back to my original premise, the current dependency on texting and tweeting, further legitimized by an American president who has difficulty stringing three words together and has probably never written a long-form letter in his life, has resulted in high school graduates who are ill-prepared for the literary rigors of university. When asked to prepare a 500-word essay, they go into apoplexy.

We must somehow turn the tide. Or maybe I’m entirely off base. I’m railing against a movement that can not be undone. Maybe I’m the dinosaur. Maybe I’m the Dodo bird, the Great Auk and the Passenger Pigeon all rolled into one.

Perhaps future students will be able to write their exams using their Twitter feed. Please keep your answers to 140 characters or less.

And why stop there? Resumes can be submitted via Snapchat or Instagram, and interviews can be conducted through text messaging.

It’s the next logical evolution from the multiple choice question.

Somebody please hand me my onion belt. ( Gratuitous Simpsons reference.)

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for the Justin Trudeau/ Donald Trump meeting on Monday. You can’t find two human beings who are more different in personality and political ideology.

I can only think that it was a totally surreal experience for the Prime Minister to kibitz with a man who would be hard-pressed to name more than three Canadian cities and a single province.

Think about that a second.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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