I am not much into the study of the evolution of man, the science that defies the story of creation that we Christians believe is the true origin of the species. Various theories, mostly based on the detailed examination of bones and other artifacts suggest that humans once sported tails and such, that gradually went away leaving us with the butts we use today to provide somewhat comfortable stadium seating at a sporting event or to raise us to proper table height so as to enjoy a meal. Those same cave men, that evolutionists believe form the basis for the human race today, were thought to communicate by grunting, pointing and knocking the soup out of one another with clubs. We had not evolved into the sophisticated linguists that we are today, speaking one of the estimated 5,000 or so languages in use around our world. I do believe that most things in our ordered existence are cyclical, thus leading me to the conclusion that we are circling back to the grunts and club swinging days of yesteryear, with the human voice headed to the scrap heap of history, replaced with the texts, emails and instant photos that can be shot around the world in a matter of seconds. The voice, with all of the tone and inflection that are characterisitic of speech, is going the way of the dodo. Kind of sad really. Let’s give this dying consideration a look.
Human beings have a enormous thirst for information. We get up most days and reach for the smart phone, IPad, laptop or desk top before we pour the first cup of the ambrosia we call coffee. The internet provides an inordinate amount of the information we consume, information delivered with the coldness that only plastic, precious metal and electricity can produce. Gone is the tone, inflection and the countenance of the spoken word and the person speaking. The reader is left to his or her interpretation of the information in front of them which may or may not be the message the sender wanted to convey. I detested email communication in the office environment when the sender was sitting in his allotted space, perhaps 20 feet away, too lazy to get off his or her rear end to walk down the hall and talk to the person they just emailed. The convenience of the text or email often left the recipient wondering just exactly what the sender meant to say. For the most part, a face to face conversation, my strong personal preference, left little doubt as to the intended message. Let me offer an example.
Your significant other is in surgery for a potentially serious problem and you are passing the time of day in the waiting room perusing your Facebook account when you receive a text from the surgeon that reads “it is over”. Say what? Immediately, you begin providing your interpretation to this message. Is the surgery over? Has your significant other survived the procedure? Did the surgeon find the situation to be hopeless and closed your person of interest up, with no hope of recovery? These kinds of cryptic exchanges of information occur every day, perhaps not in circumstances as trying as this, but nonetheless just as open to interpretation. In an effort to enhance the mysterious implications of electronic communication, we have developed little symbols intended to communicate mood and meaning…..emojis, they are called. Perhaps the surgeon could include a smiley face in his message….or perhaps a picture of hands folded in prayer. I suspect this is why doctors meet with the family after procedures so as to convey the message and answer any lingering questions….a courtesy we seldom rely upon in our daily communication. The implications associated with the electronic communication we are embracing today are significant. Can you imagine a jury being handed a series of emails and texts, with no opportunity to see the accused or plaintiffs in a legal action? No, I can’t either, however; I also did not anticipate communicating with an associate in an office setting via email when I can hear this same associate stir his coffee just a few feet from my door.
The human voice is a tremendous thing, so useful in clearly communicating with one another with clarity, conciseness and conviction. It is frightening to think we may one day conduct the preponderance of our lives via some cold, electronic conveyance with an occasional emoji to set the tone. If we are less than diligent, the speech classes that I so enjoyed in high school and college will be replaced with classes entitled “Texting 101” and “Emojis 200”. For me, I will always want to hear it, not just see it. A spoken exchange can convey anger, hatred, loathing, euphoria, sadness, excitement, enthusiasm, surprise, anticipation….the list goes on. I’ll take verbal skill any day over effective “emojiing”……..