Ong’s article explains that throughout history, writing has been seen as dangerous, because unlike speech, it cannot be immediately argued or changed. Once something is put down in pen, it exists unaltered forever. No one has the chance to refute it. Speech, the article claims, is a fair safer, less threatening form of communication. What I am most afraid of, however, is not writing or speech, but instead, a deadly combination of the two. Yes, I am talking about texting. Nothing is more dangerous. As with every technology, there will be naysayers. Late adaptors, like my parents, who refuse to embrace the genre, in this case, because they believe it impersonal. I, on the other hand, am skilled and well practiced in the art of the text, and yet, I remember never to underestimate how destructive it can be. It is far to easy to compose such a message without thinking through the consequences. Though it may be appealing to send an angry message written at the height of an argument or a text to an ex in a weak moment on a particularly lonely night, it is clearly not in the best interest of the sender. Texting is the worst of two worlds. Like speech, it is not always eloquent or well thought out. It is far more “stream of consciousness” than say an academic essay; however, it falls victim to many of the flaws that plague the written word. For example, it is impossible to tell the tone of voice from a text message. May times something is heralded as “bitchy” when it was meant to be sarcastic. Also, unlike speech, once the text is sent, a record of the conversation will exist forever. Goodbye secrecy. Goodbye privacy. My rules for texting are a lot like my rules for driving.
Plan ahead- think through the consequences of what you are about to say. Who might see this message?
Use the three second rule- read your message through and wait a few seconds before sending it.
No road rage- don’t text when your mad… It is not safe for anyone.
Maintain the approiate speed- Don’t send more than one text before you have received an answer.
Don’t drink and text- It can be fatal… well at least to your self respect.
Ong maybe should rethink his article. There is a new medium in town and it will not be underestimated. The written and spoken word have formed an allied force, and for the unprepared user, it may be a destructive combination.