girlfriend used Facebook for a couple of years, but recently
returned to sanity. In taking that decision, her concern was
that she may miss photos and news of her overseas friends
and their new baby. But, of course, there are many ways of
getting and receiving news from distant friends. Prime among
these, not so long ago, was the letter.
Composing a letter invites pause, for thought, spelling and
phrasing. Such pause is a tiny tribute to the recipient and
a signal of care by the writer. The letter has meaning beyond
Now, oddly, in this electronic network age, much of the same
could be said about an e-mail, if, that is, we compare it
to the blithe semaphore seen on the likes of Facebook, where
communication is intended for general consumption, is impersonal,
is devalued for being so and carries a subtext implying that
the crowd is more significant than you, the individual.
Now, a million words have been written about Facebook, but
here's a handful more, just to set things straight. A Facebook
page is a roomful of morons gazing at each others' navels.
Regularly, someone adds fluff. (Alison likes this).
Twitter may be worse. A tweet is a text message sent to no-one
in particular. A modern communication, but what it communicates
- what it says - is something that will be studied by future
generations. They will find evidence of our half-wit narcissism.
Such evidence will be stored in The Cloud. (Pat likes this).
That e-mail allows cut, paste and spell-check does not diminish
it. These are tools, not insults. The single recipient e-mail
stands as a little reminder, albeit electronic, that one to
one communication lifts us above the crowd. And that even
this tweeting, buzzing, digital world need not be impersonal.