A lightbulb went off in my head (PING!) and I went glassy eyed for a second or two: the thought of how online we’ll be in five years time is simultaneously awesome (in the Romantic poet sense, not the early 90s surfer dude sense) and terrifying.
You gotta hand it to the internet though. It seemed, for a while, with the advent of the telephone, that the written word was going to die out. People “telephoned” each other to arrange appointments rather than send a telegram or postcard; rather than getting together to chat, people gossiped at each other on this new ‘telling-bone’ invention. One in every home!
People no doubt wrung their hands in anxiety over the hundreds of years of evolution in the written word seemingly coming to a halt.
But fear not, late 20th century hand-wringers. Then internet was invented, bringing the written word back from its slippery slope into the doldrum world of technologies past (Betamax, 8-tracks, VHS). People emailed to arrange appointments. People chatted in chat rooms. Even telephones got in on it, with a hackneyed version of the email: the text message. Through Facebook and Twitter and email, the written word was a primary form of communication again — albeit in a radically different form to the pre-telephone age.
As the written word resurfaced into people’s everyday lifes, language evolved quickly: LOL, tweets, blog, textspeak, emoticons (for God’s sake!).
You can’t keep emails in a box under your bed. If you receive, say, a postcard from a far off place the postcard is embued with that tactile wonder of “this thing is really from a far off place and written by someone’s very hands”. It’s an actual relic! Not a series of pixels arranged conveniently to form words (although, granted, text messages are beamed up into space and back down again which is pretty awesome — makes me feel guilty for texting things like “could you get some potatoes on yr way home from work? xxx” and not something of greater import).
Getting stuff in the post is one of life’s great little pleasures. And it’s cheap, relatively speaking. There’s no one in the world who is not delighted to receive a package of zines or a letter or an envelope of little treats in the post (rather than the usual bank letters and junk mail). Join the slow words movement: make a zine! remember you gotta write a letter to get a letter! So get on with it!