The Intimacy of Text and the Evolution of Language

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From Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other to tech writer Paul Miller’s experiment of going offline for an entire year, much has been written about how the Internet is potentially warping our brains. So, I found it refreshing to read Helena Fitzgerald’s recent piece in The New Inquiry, which argues that our current primary forms of communication – texting, Gchat, email, Twitter, blogging – are forging (or re-establishing) a new relationship with the written word:

Internet socialization is far closer to a 19th century mode of intimacy than to a dystopian future of tragically disconnected robot prostitutes. There’s a Jane Austen-ish quality to online social life. The written word gains unmatched power and inarguable primacy.

Whether we’re sending long-form letters to one another or chatting face to face with friends, storytelling is key, according to Jag Bhalla writing for Scientific American:

Any story we tell of our species, any science of human nature, that leaves out much of what and how we feel is false. Nature shaped us to be ultra-social, and hence to be sharply attentive to character and plot. We are adapted to physiologically interact with stories.

Finally, Discovery News reports that there are 23 words that may date back 15,000 years. Here’s a hat-tip to David Weinberger, whose link to this article poetically ties together these ancient words with our modern technology:


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