The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Who likes short shorts? Not JDW, apparently…

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As a general guideline, I abstain from reading anything that publishes the opinions of someone who is referred to as an “etiquette queen”, especially when that anything is The Sunday Telegraph. But when an article contains phrases like “moral disrepair” and “heathen era” in the first hundred words, I can’t help myself. For those that missed it, June Dally-Watkins, or JDW, is mortified about the current state of social interaction in Australia, and has expressed concern that if things don’t change, we may not be too far from sitting on our haunches and flinging faeces at one another. Now, JDW isn’t to be confused with SBW. One knows which forks and spoons to use at the dinner table, while the other boxes and has a proclivity to switch sporting codes and teams like most of us switch socks. It’s the former we are interested in, for the purpose of this discussion.

We’ve postulated about the disappearance of manners and common courtesy on TDoT before. It’s something that I’ve gone on the record as questioning, and I’m not going to waste my Sunday afternoon doing it again. The segment of the article that caught my attention was how changes in communication methods are, at least in part, apparently contributing to the demise of humanity. June Dally-Watkins cites other causes as Germaine Greer and denim, but we won’t go into that in this post – I assume that JDW will be asked to clarify her “’I’m yours, take me” comment by other members of the media.

While I agree with Ms Dally-Watkins that hand-written correspondence carries with it a level of romanticism, it’s just not something that’s feasible in what has become such a time-poor society. Upon completing a quick audit in my head, the only things that I’ve sent or received in the last decade that have demonstrated any level of penmanship have been the obligatory birthday cards that we feel socially compelled to send each other. If you analyse them, most contain a marginal amount of forethought, and a tepid, generic level of familiarity. Why? Because in the time we should spend trying to create an original and genuine message, we’re too busy fucking around trying to buy the cards, stationery and plethora of other paraphernalia one needs to send anything via snail mail. Producing hand-written correspondence has become an inconvenience in the 21st century – why would I bother attempting it, when I can send the same well thought out, impassioned message instantly – and essentially for free – via text or email?

As long as you use manners and show respect for others when you communicate, why should the actual method of delivery matter? Technology is continuing to advance at a seemingly exponential rate, offering new ways in which to keep in touch with people, both on professional and personal levels. The telegram and weekly letter have long left the station, and while they are, for those who experienced them, charming to reminisce about, they didn’t purchase a return ticket. Things constantly change, and perhaps one day, those who grew up not knowing life without Twitter, Facebook or their iPhone, will look back on receiving a grammatically correct, punctuated email with the same fondness that their grandparents do a letter sent par avion from afar.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for reading. If you’d all be so kind as to advise me of your mailing addresses, I’ll be forwarding hand-written testaments of gratitude in the coming days.

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