The Intrepid Explorer


Here we are now in 2022, a time where ease and slothfulness have circumvented meaning. A dismissive time where information is at the end of our fingertips and while we search out the answers we have let the truths and authenticities slip away. We have overlooked the fact that that information is not always knowledge.

I want to complicate this idea and statement even more by adding that the smartphone has somehow started to corrode and corrupt our brains. They are leaving us semi-literate, surrounded by barely legible text, and turned communication to a little yellow smiley face showing a cockeyed grin and the expression that it has just passed gas.

Being somewhat of a junkyard philosopher I returned to the time of thought and wonderment. I went back to the 19th century and Friedrich Nietzsche. He was credited with being the first philosopher to write on a typewriter. 

Nietzsche became “an inscription surface” for the typewriter and famously typed "our writing tools are also working on our thoughts." This meaning is that when we use a typewriter, as when we now use a smartphone, at one level we are inscribing information onto paper or a screen; but at another level the device is inscribing ways of thinking on us. 

Our brains, as well as our imaginations become adapted to the rhythm and mode of expression of the machine. We begin to think in the flow of short phrases, text language and emojis. Then there’s the next twist, when we write so others might read our prose, so too do the machines. One learns to classify human writing and trains another to simulate it. 

The written word is arguably the most powerful and most influential tool humanity has ever created. Writing allows for the sharing of ideas, memories, events, stories and other facets of the human experience in a manner completely unparalleled by anything else. 

By aiding in the recording of people, places and events, writing allows us to recognize and understand our history and our past; it allows for the communication of complex ideas and concepts.

Perhaps more importantly, the written word connects humans to each other in ways nothing else can. By putting down directly our thoughts, stories, and memories, we are creating an immortal record of our experiences and ourselves. The written word traverses time and space; by reading the words recorded by someone in the far distant past or in a far distant land, we are instantly transported into their mind and thoughts, intimately connected to their life, their ideas and their experiences.

Now we have injected and seemingly overdosed texting, which has long been bemoaned as the downfall of the written word and one unnamed critic used in a bold statement, “penmanship for illiterates.” To which the response was, LOL. Texting isn’t writing at all. It is defended as being more akin to a spoken language. 

Texting is developing its own kind of grammar. Take LOL. It doesn’t actually mean “laughing out loud” in a literal sense anymore. LOL has evolved into something much more understated and is used when nothing is remotely amusing. To this I add LMAO to safely convey an attitude without having a literal meaning at all. 

Text language consists of the abbreviations used in casual messaging and is used so people can speak differently from the way they write, which is quick, casual and only intended to be read once. 

The degradation of words did not peak with the use of encrypted script in text language. Now, with a yellow crying face we have emojis; we have disgraced the art of human communication even further. 

Google, the Internet source for all things, has revealed that though emojis may be a form of communication, they are destroying the English language. Seventy-five percent of adults rely on emojis to communicate

Smiley faces, love hearts, thumbs up and other cartoon icons, rather than words, are quickly becoming the preferred method of communication for sloppy conversationalists resulting in a decline in grammar. 

The first emoji was created in 1999 by a team working on a Japanese mobile phone provider messaging features. Originally meaning pictograph, the word emoji literally means "picture" (e) and "character" (moji). Then the word emoji was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. 

The use of emoji has seeped into our culture to such an extent that the Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year in 2015 wasn't actually a word at all; it was the Face With Tears emoji, which displays just how influential the pesky little graphic varmints have become.

The smiling face or face with tears mimic expressions and gestures and are believed to add a new layer of meaning. Interestingly though, studies have concluded that this only worked for positive emojis. The sad face had little to no impact on how people responded to meaning. 

To all things there is change. In times past we communicated with pictographs and petroglyphs; perhaps we have just come full circle. The emoji is nothing more than a sloppy and senseless digital version of a petroglyph that laziness has returned to us so we don’t have to write or worry about using the right word.
As for myself, when I ponder all this nonsensical bewilderment, I’m still stuck on the straining little yellow smiley face showing a cockeyed grin and the expression that it just passed gas. - dbA

You can find more of the unfiltered insight of Dan Abernathy at www.contributechaos.com and please SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube Channel, The Intrepid Explorer.       

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