Thought For The Day #4616 April 2015
Broadcast 16th of April 2015 on BBC Radio Bristol
I got a text message from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs the other day. It was just a reminder about my tax return and sadly didn’t contain any LOLs, smiley faces or kisses. I must say I was surprised that such a traditional institution was embracing modern communication. But it’s becoming more and more common. Even Weston Super Mare council reckons Ebay is the best way to auction off its new beach huts. Maybe one day we’ll have an election where the party with the most Facebook likes wins!?
The Internet is fast becoming a language that we all need to learn to speak. It’s even considered a literacy in schools, alongside reading and writing. For the newer generations, it’s not a big deal, but for the older generations it can feel as difficult as stuttering lines of French from a phrasebook. Interestingly though this isn’t the first time humans have had to deal with new ways of communicating. Before the Internet there was writing, which we now take for granted, but in the middle ages no more than a quarter of people could read. And even before writing, some academics consider verse and rhyme a form of technology. The best example of this I think is the handy phrase, “lefty loosey, righty tighty”, to help me remember how to use bottle tops. Just like Google, rhyme helps us remember things more easily.
So the Internet may seem new, but we have been through similar changes before. What’s always been the same is that whatever the form of language, it helps us connect with other living, breathing humans. Even if that’s just a text to say, “DEAR TOM, CAN YOU PAY YOUR TAXES NOW PLEASE, LOVE HMRC”