Words are beautiful. They have meaning. Words have life. They can make one feel. They can make one laugh, or cry. They can incite people to anger, or bring two lonely hearts together. They make something happen inside one’s head by inspiring imagination. When ancient Man first uttered something that was understood, civilization was born. With language, Mankind set itself on the road to becoming the dominant species, became a force with which to be reckoned.
But words are dying, not a slow death, and that means imagination is not far behind.
Texting and Internet shorthand are conspiring to kill communication. My wife gets frustrated with me when I draw a conclusion from something she said she didn’t intend. She claims I take her too literally. “That’s not what I meant,” she tells me. To which I reply, “Then say what you mean.”
I work with a number of Millennials, and none of them read novels, or even crack a book. They’d rather wait for a novel to come to the silver screen because then they don’t have to use their imagination. They, too, despite all the connectivity that texting boasts, fail to understand communication, the beauty of words—the utter loveliness of connecting with another human being by conveying thoughts, ideas and feelings acoustically rather than over the Internet.
If words are dying, that means the novel, too, will soon die, destined to become a curiosity, something only studied in classrooms as an archaic art form.
Nearly 305,000 new books were published in the U.S. in 2013, most self-published. Just about all of them are poorly written, just as poorly edited (if at all), and poorly produced by wannabes who know nothing of craft and have no desire to learn craft let alone the best practices of writing, whether it be fiction or nonfiction.
Toss into the equation the growing number of Americans who admit to not reading novels and you end up with a growing supply of poor product and a decreasing demand.
I find all of this sad, and not only because I make my living from arranging words on a blank monitor.
We live in a society of divisiveness, of left and right, where communication is broken. No one listens; everyone seems to want to be heard.
A society in which no one listens is fated to fall.
Does anyone hear me?