From the time that human beings moved from sign language to speaking, words have become the most important form of expression. Communication has been the key to the process of human evolution. Sure there have been other factors that have also led to the evolution but communication has been the most important. Most of the inventions would have failed if there was not a communication channel to help reach out to masses.

When it is about communication, can the conversation about advertising be far behind? 🙂

Advertising helped the masses in getting to know new products, new technologies, new ideas. Stuff that was relevant for them. Of course advertising moved from mere information dissemination to more evolved approach of plugging a need gap, creating a desire, making people buy something which had lot more attached to it than pure functionality.

But this post is not about advertising or communication. It is about words. Words that string together to form a sentence. A sentence that communicates what we feel, what we like, what we don’t life, express our point of view.

Long back when there was no internet, no social media, no communication apps, we relied on speaking face to face. For long distance, there was post – Inland letters for regular updates, written pages in an envelope about detailed stuff, love letters, fights, breakups. Everything had a ritual to it. Everything had anticipation. That waiting for the postman to arrive or checking the mailbox as soon as you got home. That first reading of the letter quickly. Then taking time to read it the second time. Pondering over words on the page. Trying to visualise what the person at the other end was feeling when writing. Lovers treasured the letters and visited them over and over. When a break up happened, a bonfire was made of the letters. The letters were burnt but memories remained.

Cut to 21st century. We still communicate. More rapidly than ever before. We type and hit send. And the fact that it is all instant (try this sometime. How long do you wait, how often do you go over what you have typed before pressing send), has meant that we don’t much bother about what the words can do. We don’t pay attention to the language or even to specific words. Words that may cause hurt, anger, love, misunderstanding. There is no crossing out once ‘send’ button has been pressed (of course apps are looking at building a recall feature – high time). The problem is that receiver too reads the messages instantly and reacts instantly. We say people have become more expressive today with all the fancy stuff they can do with emoticons and emojis. I say we have lost the art of communicating. Art of using the right words. Art of pondering over what we really want to communicate.

Back when we used to write, we would go over what we had written again and again. At times tear the sheet if we felt it sounded wrong. There was a clarity of thought. For the sender and for receiver. Not anymore.

Considering that we now ‘talk’ less and text more – love happens on text, proposing happens on text, sex happens on text, break up happens on text… we don’t think too much before typing and sending the message. We do not think of the impact words can have on the person who gets the message. Even when we read the message, we read the words. We do not try to read the intent behind the words. We do not visualise person’s state of mind when he/she was typing out the message.

It is a pity though. For someone who loves words, loves what they can do, it saddens me to see what we are doing to them. Not just in personal communication, but even in the profession I am in. The art of writing. The art of persuasive words has disappeared. It has disappeared because we don’t have the craft. The client doesn’t want too many words. The evolved consumer thinks in terms of number of characters rather than sentences. Thinks in terms of emojis. So we also need to communicate the same way.

We don’t read enough therefore we do not have the vocabulary to express well enough.

This though doesn’t matter so much. We get what we deserve. Of special concern is breakdown of communication between two individuals and that really is the sad part of being in the digital era.


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