I once met a bigshot from Google who had decided, as bigshots so often do, that the rules of decorum no longer applied to his kind. In this case that meant Mr. Big decided that he no longer need to bother with capital letters in his emails.
Why? For the obvious reason: creating a capital letter requires an extra step, the ultimately unhip pressing of the shift key.
It struck me at the time as a seismic shift. If the bigshot at Google was no longer capitalizing "google," could the end of civilization be that far behind? Like everyone else I have watched as texting on cell phones became its own language: wtf, where r u ? is not a bad starting point for this discussion, but to see the means of communications changing was not to know what it all meant.
The story continues ... as all these stories do ... with the introduction of the iSomething into one's life. I had an iPod -- and loved it -- but the iPhone was going to change me forever, whether I liked it or not.
Allow me to explain. Like taking pictures on a cell phone, texting never made sense to me until I started to do it. Faster than e-mail, more immediate than the phone in many cases, texting was intoxicating. Before you knew it I was texting things like the lowercase "r u coming" and "k" to my son, who was suddenly communicado in this new and shorter form.
You can guess what happened: capital letters soon went missing from my missives, and another problem arrived with implications most grave. To put a period at the end of a sentence on the iPhone, one had to flip to a second keyboard, hit the period, then flip back to Qwerty -- a royal pain, in other words.
Before long the stray period started to go missing. Commas? Foggedaboudit! Commas were for wimps and not the cool guy I was becoming. I was slinging the slang on my iPhone, and periods would just have to wait. Period.
A funny thing happened on the way to written anarchy. My emails started to grow truncated, abortive. For years I had prided myself on watching the typos and ending with a spiffy salutation to my emails. All of that has gone out the window. It's all I can do now to manage a period at the end of a one-sentence email.
If you're in this world you know what I'm talking about, and if you know what it all means please let me know. The best I can do is to say truncation says something about what we are becoming and what we are destined to become, with substance giving way to speed faster than fresh wheels on the autobahn. If we can eliminate whole words and then excise punctuation, will we not reach a point where you need GPS to find out what anything means?
Don't u c?
They're only words, but at the end of the day, at the end of the sentence, words are all we have.