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Bad Karma, Volume 2

By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer, UnionvilleTimes.com

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not here to be your friend.

That is unless you want to Facebook me…yeah that’s okay. Or maybe Google Plus; I hear that’s a good one too. You’ll just have to get your request in before I post my daily Twitter feed. I do it every morning before I add videos to my You Tube channel via my iPhone 4 using one hand while simultaneously writing my daily blog on competitive lawn sports with the other. Okay? Sounds good. Lol, ttyl, brb, etc…

Yeah, right.

Time to come clean kids: I don’t do the Twitter, nor do care about how much Tom Cruise enjoyed his bowl of Crazy-O’s this morning, or what Lindsay Lohan is snorting in between prison stints. You see I just don’t understand why all of these mediums—and subsequent technologies that allow us to communicate instantaneously—are completely devouring the American attention span.

Well I do actually, but I don’t like it. Unlike most of you out there, I don’t have the latest incarnation of the iPhone or whatever that can text 50 people at once, give you directions to a hotel in Bolivia, track convicted felons, and make pancakes all in less than five minutes. Nor would I want such a thing. What would I do with it? Tweet? That’s for the birds, baby.

I’m not knocking social media—not all of it anyway—but these websites, while providing unique opportunities to reconnect with old friends and meet new people, have contributed heavily to the plummeting of the collective American IQ.

Twitter specifically is guilty of this sin by promoting what is known as “micro-blogging,” a process that allows virtually anyone to comment on anything, thus blurring the lines between what is considered imperative or relevant content and that which is simply pointless babble.

As most of you know, these “tweets” can range from opinions on world events from legitimate commentators to something as trivial as dialog on what brand of floss Herman Cain uses to get the pizza residue out. Even more troubling is the fact that Americans, who have always been infatuated with the of cult of personality, are now finding themselves hanging on every trite word of celebrity tweets, including excerpts from the lives of such intellectual giants as the Kardashians…seems like there’s more of that clan every day. They must be dividing and reproducing like a virus.

Returning to the topic, social media applications have also boosted the sales of devices such as the Blackberry, iPhone, and other smart phone variants. Their rampant distribution goes hand in hand with the deterioration of The King’s English. How?

Chat and text phrases such as “lol,” “bff,” “b4,” “brb,” “l8r,” etc. are now forming the basis of a new proto-language that is steadily encroaching upon the use of standard written English. Considering the deficiency in the writing abilities of many current high schoolers, undergraduate university students, and even professionals, the effects of this electronic culture could be potentially devastating in regards to the ability of future generations to communicate intelligently.

Not a threat? Give it a few years; these people will be representing you in Congress.

Speaking from experience, social media usually sends journalists and members of the grammar police to the verge of apoplexy from overexposure to sentence fragments, non-words, and improperly ending sentences with prepositions.

Makes me shudder just thinking about it.

Additionally, the technology associated with mass communication has not only bred users to communicate without regard for any adherence to linguistic form or legitimacy of content, but has also contributed to erasing the need to retain basic skills.

Reading maps has gone by the wayside with the availability of GPS. Automatic tip calculators in cell phones have eliminated the need to do simple arithmetic. Addressing envelopes and sending letters by “snail-mail” has become virtually extinct on a person to person basis. And, horrifically enough, some undergraduate students cannot even tell time from a traditional, non-digital clock.

Personally, I don’t know what can be done to remedy the stupefying of the common American user this late in the game; the drooling is already in the advanced stages. Besides, I’m not here to offer solutions, only to drink beer and point out the problem.

I can only hope that one day, magically, we’ll all stop waiting in line at 5 AM to get the newest crap at Best Buy, stop spending hours upon hours on social networking sites, stop caring so much about the lives of celebrities who wouldn’t give us a second thought, and START being functional human beings again.

Maybe there’s an app for that.

P.J. D’Annunzio is a local writer whose light-hearted cynicism and ability to rock far surpass his years.  He enjoys jamming, lovely ladies, and getting into (and staying) in trouble. His column, Bad Karma, appears weekly and he can reached at pj@kennetttimes.com

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