Friday, June 7, 2013

Rethinking Texting: Taking a Second Glance

"Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief..."

Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2

In an earlier post, I mentioned why I wasn't into texting.  Since that time, however, I have changed my mind.  In law school, we had a professor who required us to answer a single question for a law exam.  We had 24 hours to produce an answer to the legal question.  The rub was that we had to be concise and precise.  He gave a strict word limit that meant no bullshitting.  One had to know what one was talking about in order to properly analyze the problem and answer the question.  At the time I didn't understand why he required this.  His explanation was that judges, when reading briefs, want to read legal pleadings which are short and to the point.  They don't have time for trivialities.

In time I have come to recognize that brevity is indeed the soul of wit.  Being able to filter out extraneous information and distill information down to its bare essence is far from easy.  In fact, it is one of the more difficult analytical things we can do.

Just listen to the way most people tell stories.  A good storyteller won't waste time with irrelevant details.  He won't be overly descriptive, but will emphasize the right elements at the right time.  Having a sense of pace and proportion in storytelling is critical.  Most people, however, stink at telling stories because they ramble on and fail to get to the point.

In an age when cell phone calls and long distance are essentially free, the temptation to over talk is rampant.  Something that could be said in a few moments ends up taking much too much time.  Efficiency and productivity of the workday suffer.  At the end of the day, you wonder where your time went because you didn't get anything done.

A text message that limits you to a limited number of characters requires you to put some organization and thought into your message.  You are forced to distill things down to their bare essence.  For many types of communication, such as dinner plans, scheduling changes, etc., this is the perfect medium.

My phone is still old and not designed for texting.  It is slow and arcane.  Yet I am coming to appreciate the hidden beauty of texting.  It reminds me of my old law school professor and his brief exams.  Sometimes understanding comes slowly, but sometimes it finally does arrive.

The future involves texting, and I am finally okay with it.

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