The Shallow Depth of 160 Characters, 10-7-13

May 18, 2016 | by: Father Chuck Owens | 0 comments

Tags: Padre's Ponderings

padre164Those places where the ocean and the shore intersect have fascinated me for as long as I can remember - walking on the beach barefooted and watching pelicans dive just beyond the breakers evoke a degree of peace which often eludes me elsewhere . . . at some level this doesn't make sense, given the violent activity associated with waves crashing on the strand and the resulting, inexorable shifting of the sand . . . but then I'm just a too-infrequent visitor to the world of sun screen and shells; full-time residents observe the receding dune line with a heightened awareness of tidal power.

Tides rise and fall, doing their greatest damage when the sun and moon are aligned and when storms pound the coast; but there's an encroaching tide that is ceaselessly and drastically eroding what was once the hallmark of civilized people: the desire to communicate one's thoughts using the king's English (more properly the queen's English, given that Elizabeth II is now on the throne). What started as a ripple of emails has escalated into a tsunami of texting, tweeting and rapping that has introduced a level of language sloppiness which is rapidly undermining the ability to express our deepest thoughts cogently - or could it be that our thinking has been reduced to the shallow depth of 160 characters?!

For a time I believed my barrier of mental sandbags was withstanding the tide; but alas, while reading "Robert E. Lee on Leadership" by H. W. Crocker III this past week, I discovered that seepage had occurred. Hesitating over words like emollient, perdurable, pedregal and manumitted made me realize that my working vocabulary had decreased due in no small part, I posit, to the onrush of monosyllabic communication and, worse yet, abbreviated slang (can there be such a thing).

Agreeing with Socrates that it is better to suffer evil than to commit it, I have strengthened my resolve to rise above the flood by reading even more and carefully guarding my words, both written and spoken. My request of Becky to help hold me accountable received a telling response: "LOL!"

In His Power and for His Glory,

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