February 12th, 2008

ozarque figure

Personal note; request for your advice...

I badly need some advice -- and I'm absolutely certain that you [youall] are the people who have the information and expertise needed for providing me with that advice.

Over the next few months I'm involved in a couple of projects where I have to both talk and write about "verbal self-defense in e-language" for an audience aged roughly 16 to 30. And what I need to know is this:

Can I do that if all I know about text-messaging/IM-ing is what I've read about it, or do I have to actually learn how to do it myself?

The thought of having to learn a whole new technology gives me the flaming horrors; I suppose that goes with being 71. [And I admit that I've had to be dragged kicking and screaming into every new technology I've encountered over the past 30 years, including the shift to the electric typewriter, so being 71 is only part of the explanation.] I'd have to buy a new gizmo -- fast! -- and pay for the Net access; I'd have to fight my way through the incomprehensible documentation... You cannot imagine how much I dread that prospect.

On the other hand, I keep stumbling over things like this quote from Caitlin McNally, Associate Producer for the PBS documentary video Growing Up Online:

"Writing an e-mail for a lot of the kids we talked to is equivalent to sitting down and hand-writing a letter for me. They described e-mail as a slow, archaic way to keep in touch with your aunt halfway across the country or apply for a summer internship. Even the most articulate kids who aced all their English classes could switch effortlessly into IM or text-speak; quick, pithy, shorthand Internet language was second nature to almost all the kids we met. They're bilingual, and they intuitively understand an entire culture generated by the Internet, with customs and vocabulary that we had to learn step-by-step."

[The site for Growing Up Online is at
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/kidsonline ;
the quote is from the very interesting "What We Learned" page, at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/kidsonline/etc/notebook.html .]

I so do not want to have to take up IM-ing. I want to be able to look these youngsters in the eye and say, "I don't know how to do IM-ing and I'm not ever going to know how, but that's okay -- everything I'm saying/writing here can be extrapolated to IM-ing." [I realize that I can't really look people in the eye in written language, but hey ... I'm a science fiction writer.] I also so do not want to be one of those ghastly elders that the kids who are listening and/or reading immediately distrust because the aforementioned elders so obviously don't know what they're talking about.

Oh, cottonpick. Oh, woe.


Mayday, even.
ozarque figure

Personal note; request for your advice; afternote...

I am tremendously grateful to all of you: Your comments are answering my question in detail, and are giving me the information I so badly need. Thank you very much.

It's going to take me a while to work my way through the comments and respond to them properly, but I wanted to let you know right away that this is one elder who thanks you wholeheartedly for all the advice and help you're giving her.