Posted on 21/08/2021 by Trivia – The Spice of Life
Image courtesy: https://in.pinterest.com/ and https://news.kuwaittimes.net/
Those like me who grew up before the advent of the IT (information technology) revolution would cringe at the kind of acronyms teenagers use nowadays. I recently got a first hand experience of what generation gap is and also felt happy that there was one, in the first place. The fact that this befell me was not because of a fault in my stars but my own insecurity about placing a smartphone in the hands of my teenage daughter. I view the online education model as a necessary evil, given the uncertain times that we live in.
|1||Idk||I don’t know|
|8||lol||laughing out loud|
Online schooling has been about using all the tools available for learning. Group activities are also included in the curriculum. Group activities invariably mean that the starting point is a WhatsApp group of the concerned students. I have noticed that almost all students have their own smartphones which also means access to all social media platforms. However, I am not too comfortable giving my daughter, who is barely thirteen, a smartphone with unfettered access to the internet. Thus, I am compelled to add my own number in these student groups. I feel very uncomfortable, being the only parent on the group. But being on such groups has made me understand the manner in which the younger generation massacres language. Call it the height of naïveté, but I initially felt that they were making errors while typing. Idk, Ik, sry, rly, cuz, K, nvm – just didn’t make sense to me. I then asked my daughter what these nonsensical words were. Belonging to Generation Z, pat came the reply – they are acronyms and abbreviations. Emoticons, I felt, would be better than such gibberish.
If you felt that these are all I learnt, let me tell you that I was fortunate that the task at hand was accomplished before I could be bombarded with more. As soon as the group work was completed, I exited the group and heaved a sigh of relief. The day is not far when people like me will have to refer to a separate dictionary which only lists acronyms. Since the children are so addicted to typing acronyms, it becomes challenging for them to write, to begin with; writing complete words and sentences is a bigger ordeal.
Come to think of it, how often do adults put pen to paper nowadays? Almost everything is typed. With online shopping being the norm, even grocer’s lists do not need to be handwritten. The personal touch that anything handwritten has, with all the accompanying imperfections of shaping the alphabets, can never be found in digital fonts that are standardized and perfect. Alas! Handwriting is at a risk of completely disappearing. Earlier we would at least sign with our hand. But now there is the digital signature. Handwritten letters are a dated concept today, as the preferred way of communicating is e-mail.
As regular readers of my posts would know, I love to present contrasting scenarios. One document that I would prefer typed rather than handwritten is the doctor’s prescription!! I wonder how the pharmacist can magically decipher the doctor’s handwritten prescription. They must be a blessed lot. While there is justification for the illegible handwriting – the large number of patients to attend to, emergencies, long case histories to note – the ordinary patient, who pays through his nose, is rather flummoxed. It is not out of place to mention here that recently (in August, 2020) the Orissa High Court observed that – the entire physician community needs to go an extra mile and make conscious efforts to write prescriptions in good handwriting, preferably in capital letters. The digital era could also throw open several options to make prescriptions and the diagnosis more patient friendly. It observed that Illegible handwriting in medical records has the propensity to have adverse medico-legal implications.
I cannot stop myself from mentioning this anecdote that I came across while researching for this post. Interestingly, a doctor wrote a romantic letter to his lady love. It was the pre-email era and hence was handwritten. The poor girl could not identify even a single word. But she was very clever that she went to a pharmacist and got the letter read though at the expense of their privacy. Thus, here is where technology and digital tools could come in handy. I have seen many techno-savvy doctors doing away with handwritten prescriptions. They have an iPad on which they use Insta (by Practo) to type out prescriptions.
To conclude, technology should be harnessed for achieving greater good. There is no right or wrong sometimes. It is just a clash of mindsets of people who belong to different generations. It is all about being discerning enough about when not to use TLAs (three letter acronyms – you see I have joined the bandwagon for a moment !!). It is also up to us to keep handwriting alive.