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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Is The Age of Writing Over?

We know the age of reading is over: reading, that is, as defined as "general reading, motivated by curiosity, for the pleasure of reading, without any specific benefit in mind'. We know it is over: a walk down Nai Sadak reveals that the famous Sunday Book Bazaar consists of little more than textbook guides, GRE workbooks, medical books, and Lonely Planet guidebooks. And what's more, despite the crowds at the Book fairs and the "great explosion of Indian writing in English", the younger generation now spends its leisure hours smsing each other, surfing social networking sites, watching reality shows on TV, and if they read at all, those books are likely to be technical manuals or textbooks.
The Age of Writing, too, seems to be at an end. Emails and Smses have ended the long, detailed inland letters we wrote to friends and relatives, and "u" for you, and 'b4" seems to be the cutting edge of spelling innovation amongst youth. SMS English has crept into emails and Facebook.
All this would not matter, if atleast our youth knew how to convey their meaning, even in such painfully amputated English. Everyday, in office, I find educated youth, with post-graduate degrees, and in responsible posts, writing shockingly poor English, in terrible constructions of words, which would have put a Second-standard student to shame a few years back.
The truth finally struck me: like the Viennese Waltz, or pencil moustaches, both general reading and writing are going to be extinct in a few years from now. Sad, but true. We are going to be a nation of data entry operators, and mechanics and technicians.......
PS: I asked my daughter, who is in the 10th standard, to name a single battle in Indian history. She did not know. Hopefully, I asked her, 'What about the Battle of Plassey?". She replied, "Well, I read about it last year, and now I do not remember what that was'.
And academically, she is amongst the top in her school. God help us!!

1 comment:

  1. On the contrary, if you accept blogs as a platform for self-expression, then you could safely say that the age of writing has just arrived.Its my observation that people want to write and be read. I have met quite a number of people who want to just focus on writing and get published, even if its a compilation of inane poems!