Besides the fact that this guy looks like a rounder, friendlier version of Gustavo Fring – I’m finding myself drawn to this TED talk for so many reasons.
2013, a time when most people in a social setting can be seen together, sitting, not speaking – smiling vacantly at a glowing spot by their crotch from under the table. Depressing but true! The last time I forgot my phone and went out I felt a gaping hole not being able to reach out to the Internet world and search for a meme that would add to the present conversation. My pockets never felt so empty. With smartphones there comes this big social cost, and more people are recognizing the shame of it, not living in the moment and opting for a handheld version of spending time with others. Last month a YouTube video called “I Forgot My Phone” caused waves on the Internet, a sad portrait of a woman’s day shadowed by gadgets and technology.
At the same time, this speech makes some valid points in favour for how social interaction is evolving in a different way.
In 14 minutes, linguist John McWhorter tears down the notion that the casual language of texting has ruined literacy, and has created a generation of young people who just don’t “get” the idea of how to communicate with each other. Rather than that, it’s created a new form of literacy that will undoubtedly evolve in broader and more subtle ways.
“And so, the way I’m thinking of texting these days is that what we’re seeing is a whole new way of writing that young people are developing, which they’re using alongside their ordinary writing skills, and that means that they’re able to do two things. Increasing evidence is that being bilingual is cognitively beneficial. That’s also true of being bidialectal. That’s certainly true of being bidialectal in terms of your writing. And so texting actually is evidence of a balancing act that young people are using today, not consciously, of course, but it’s an expansion of their linguistic repertoire.“
Best talk I have seen for a while.