Dennie Quill, Contributor
It was fascinating to watch a young man scrolling through his notes on his cellphone as he delivered a tribute at the recent funeral for well-known media personality Basil 'Bagga' Brown. Microphones, lights, video cameras and camcorders are not enough to enhance worship services. Some preachers are already beaming their sermons on wide-screen monitors from their laptops.
It is simply amazing how technology has continued to evolve over the last few decades. And some Jamaicans are not far behind in this technology revolution. I fear that many of the youngsters born in this digital age may be embracing new technology to the detriment of their education. Why do I say this? Here is a text message I recently received from a young relative who is in high school. "How r u? All d best 4 d rest of d day."
After a few moments of digesting that sentence, I was able to fudge through and grasp the message. But a week before that, I got another message, and within the text were the letters 'btw'. It took a while to decipher that this meant 'by the way'. It seems to me that if people are communicating using this abridged version of the language, they will find it more difficult to master the language and be competent when it matters most. For most people who tweet, blog and make comments on Facebook, spelling is not important - one just has to write it down.
Social graces sacrificed
Like it or not, this is the way of the future, and technology will continue to evolve. It's more entertaining to be tweeting on one's BlackBerry than listening to a boring speech. Recently, I attended a wedding reception, and eight persons at the table were scrolling their BlackBerrys during the toasts, and these were by no means uninteresting speakers. What does that say for social graces?
We have become so closely wedded to technology that those who cannot afford a BlackBerry are hell-bent on acquiring one, even it means stealing it. We have seen that some will even kill to acquire this instrument.
Many of my friends have declared nil interest in Facebook and other social networks. And with the recent hacking of the accounts of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, they remain resolute that they will not become a part of this burgeoning chattering community. There are already enough negatives about social networks, with reports of addiction to games such as FarmVille and gambling, they argue.
But how long can anyone exist without learning something about this new technology? Reluctantly, some of us dinosaurs have tried to take nervous steps into the future. Take electronic mail. If you have relatives overseas, you need not post cards to mark significant milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries; you simply send an e-card or perhaps a text message. There are, in fact, various ways in which technology can save money.
Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl put it well when he said: "When we are no longer able to change a situation ... we are challenged to change ourselves."
Dennie Quill is a veteran media practitioner. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.