I read an observation recently about the notion that our society has reverted back into hieroglyphs without realizing it. After reading this, I began to think about my generation and those younger than me and the way they convey language. It seems to me that with emojis, simplified texts, and technology in general, we have created an odd kind of disconnect. In ancient times, the creation of written language was a way to preserve idea and thought. Without it, our world as we know it today would not exist. Written language gave people the ability to express exactly what they wanted to say and expand those ideas. Because of this new way of displaying thought, society continued to move forward.
It is a curious thing, though. This time, the change in the way we convey language has become somewhat stunted. It seems to have, at least in my opinion, created a generation where words mean less. Where deep thinking sometimes only goes as far as one can select a picture (thumbs up, a martini glass, or literally a poop with a happy face in the middle of it). For some people, it is hard to engage with the things around them when they are too engaged with the artificial social atmosphere they can create to perfection on their phones. It is a hard balance, one that I struggle with often.
Many of us (the lucky ones, I think) love words. Then again, it is a bit ironic that my very discussion is being published online. The very fact that this is the way we have decided to create community in the world. It is a slippery slope with being able to communicate with people from all around the world and share ideas, but also that we sit, type, and stare at a computer screen instead of debate and discuss out loud and with real people. But we love words. We love putting words together to share our inner thoughts with a group of strangers. Maybe that is why we do it, for the very reason that there is only the slightest chance in the world that I will meet my fellow bloggers in real life (or even know it if I do). What value our words, then, if we are not sharing them with the people around us? What value our connection to people and ideas and thought, if I have been sitting in a coffee shop for the last four hours surrounded by people, and have had not even one conversation, shallow or otherwise.
How do we find this balance? And how do we, as writers, and thinkers and storytellers, take these ideas beyond our safe online community of well-meaning strangers? How do I know when to get offline and go out in the world and live out my thoughts in real time? What right do I have to tell the younger generation (who are not so much younger than myself), that there is more to life than getting likes and followers on social media, when even I get a slight thrill when I see a new follower or like on my blog?
These are the questions I ask myself as I continue to type, to think, and to try to find the meaning of what it means to be “social” in a “community”, online or otherwise.