Monday, October 15, 2012

Texting "might be making us less intelligent"

The NYT has a big ad this morning for, about the threat that texting poses to not only language but even intelligence, laid out in detail on this page. The site is owned by Domtar, "the largest integrated manufacturer and marketer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America and the second largest in the world".

The blurb says that "The severity of the educational repercussions of texting is hotly debated among the experts", and they argue that "Reports ... suggest that the younger generation is not as smart as it used to be when it comes to basic decorum for important life skills such as applying to college or for a job." But I was wondering how far they'd have to stretch to make it an ad for paper …
Indeed, in a professional context, the “laziness of language” exhibited in texting could be considered, at best, as a level of familiarity that might not be appreciated by a recruiter. At worst, it could be viewed as reflection of a lax attitude in other areas – also something you don’t want to put forward when you’re asking for a job.
So, how can paper help with this distinctly modern conundrum? Paper is a classic, commanding its own form of respect and inherently conveying formality. To print out correspondence like a resumé or college entrance essay subtly imparts the message that a candidate has taken the time to consider their application and that they are serious about achieving their aspirations. Putting a document down on paper, sealing it in an envelope and addressing it to a key contact also demonstrates an ability to properly adapt forms of communication to the right setting so you get the optimal result.
Did pen and pencil manufacturers pursue similar strategies when computers started to build a big market? Whatever, in my world, nothing says formality like vellum (image from here).

The real complaint about language is the supposed retreat of formal language. If that's happening (and that's a plausible thing), it's an interesting question what that means culturally, but I'm pretty sure it's not causing stupidity.

1 comment:

Monica said...

Wow, that's one of the dumbest things I've read today!