Question… Are you still allowed to ask for a ‘black’ or ‘white’ coffee? Or, as I have recently been asked several times in coffee shops, must you request it ‘with’ or ‘without’ milk? I am happy to be an early adopter on such matters so not to have my beliefs, opinions or intentions misconstrued, but I keep missing the memos. As soon as I heard the word ‘lady’ had become unacceptable I have updating my lexicon and have been lovingly correcting my fellow humans to say ‘woman’ instead. I don’t think it is just a conspiracy between the Guardian newspaper and Liverpool football club, but a lot of people missed the memo on that one.
I called this post ‘You can’t say that any more’ but a better title would have been to borrow from Jean Baudrillard and John Connor and call it ‘The loss of sarcasm and the rise of emoticons’… But I thought you might judge me, so I didn’t.
The Loss of Sarcasm.
I would rather talk to someone than send them a message. It doesn’t need to be a long conversation but it allows for the best form of communication, sarcasm. The beautiful art of saying the opposite of what you mean, sadly loses its magic in a digital format. Emoticons offer some assistance, but is it too late?
We are encouraged to send shorter and shorter messages. Continually reviewing the necessity of each word in a sentence required for it to still make sense, until we are left with no words at all, only a series of emoticons. It is concise, which I like, but this new language is seeping out of the matrix and into the real world… and it doesn’t work. A winking emoticon to highlight the use of digital sarcasm is fine, but when you wink IRL after a sarcastic comment, the comment is then perceived as your actual opinion, and at best you will be labelled a flirt. And so it is, that the emoticons have taken over.
Self educate, self regulate.
We are allotted a probation period in life to learn how to walk and talk, learn maths and geography and how to drive etc… But when it comes to life’s more challenging hurdle of digital social interactions you just get handed the keys with no handbook or instruction. There is no learning curve either. No chance to say something naive, no chance to learn from your mistakes, or change your mind, no chance to grow up.
We are taught that if we haven’t got anything good to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. But who is deciding what is good? Maybe the best solution then is just not say anything at all. Just in case. You have the right to freedom of speech of course, but you understand the catch is that whilst you have the right to express your opinions, by voicing them you are agreeing to be judged by them. Legally by the authorities, but also socially judged by the politically correct police, as well as the haters and the trolls. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish too.
All that said, maybe its nothing new. If something is free, there is usually a catch. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes written in a very small font. And other times it is hidden.
Take an old example… Garden of Eden. God says you can eat anything you want, just don’t eat from ‘that’ tree. Hidden catch, there are also a number of poisonous berries and fish which if you try to eat will kill you too. Not as bad as the apple from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil though, just normal death, so it was decided to leave that warning out. Another ommission from the instruction manual for the early colonists of planet Earth is that there are a number of wild animals that might try and kill you. Some to eat you, some because it is in their nature, and others as a defence mechanism. I like to think Jesus at this point was in favour of making all the animals talk to avoid any awkward misunderstandings and accidental eating of humans, but when they put it to the vote the Father and the Holy Spirit were against the idea. 2-1 again.