The use of the internet, via web pages and email, makes us better readers and writers. Right? I don’t think so.
The desktop publishing generation of the late 1980s and 90s, with WYSIWYG computer displays, word processors, and page layout programs, combined to make people read and write again, decades after reading and writing seemed to go out of style.
One could argue that the internet generation, with gazillions of web pages, and hundreds of daily email messages, improved on that trend of more reading and more writing, and made us better readers and writers. Don’t argue that. It hasn’t happened.
If anything, reading comprehension and writing capability have devolved, devoid of the precision use of language, we are in the era of articulate communication lost.
Computers from the 1980s came with word processors already installed; simple applications designed to record what we write, format said writing appropriately for reports, letters, documents, and then save the whole mess for posterity.
It worked. Except for a few caveats.
Now we have gazillions of messy documents recorded for posterity, most of which are devoid of articulate, thoughtful, well-phrased communication. They’re just a bunch of words, collected, mashed, and processed for the electronic document, saved digitally, printed via laser or inkjet, or stored online
The internet has made personal communication worse than ever. We attempt to communicate with processed words, via email, text messaging, instant messaging, often in a cryptic combination of acronymic-like phrases; strings of letters which, when combined in a certain order, become what passes as sentences in the 21st century.
In the past, we wrote letters with meaning and conviction and clairty. Then we learned how to process words, and, in turn that caused us to lose the art of coherent thought. We condense words and thoughts into strings of letters, and string the strings together to imply a meaning of sorts.
Gone are the subtleties of meaning in well crafted phrases. Gone are the nuances of concern and consideration embedded in words, implied in meanings between the lines.
Like digital Velveeta, we’ve processed words until they no longer express the rich and varied thoughts behind the keystrokes, though not uttered.
Word processing is bad for humankind.