Sunday, October 1, 2023 | 05:18 WIB

Writing as a “Lost Art”?

Jakarta, IO – Practically every human on the planet with access to electrical power has become a mutant. If you doubt this, allow me to proffer a case study. 

A confident toddler marches into his parents’ room and with the imperious manner of the Terrible Twos barks out his demand: “Tablet!” 

A two-year-old operating a computer that in the 1970s even IBM could only dream of? Now of course the “computer” has an operating system and program ( = game) that is extremely user-friendly ,but don’t try and explain that to Grandpa. These kids are mutants, for better or for worse. 

Adult frequently lose in this game. How often do you see an SMP (middle-school) class where a couple of students will patiently assist a flustered teacher who cannot get his PowerPoint program to work properly, as everybody else in the class attempts to suppress derisive giggles? 

Marvelous, the March of Progress. Indonesia advances into a shining future. Alas, there is a “downside”. 

Read: Confirmation Process of Associate Justice At US Supreme Court

The downside of this intrusion of powerful technology into practically every aspect of our lives is that small humans in industrialized nations today, and that includes Indonesia, have an attention span about as long as that of an anopheles mosquito, as a result of the staccato bombardment of images aural & visual from his or her “device”. TikTok, Instagram, games galore. 

They love it. Parents are amazed, and amused: “My child can operate this thing and I can barely figure out how to turn it on”. But there is a dark side, as schoolteachers will readily recount to you, with frustration. The sort of discipline necessary to accomplish relatively simple language tasks, such as writing an essay, is difficult to implement in children growing up in a cyber-environment, with continual distraction. 

Look at the shortcuts, abbreviations and substitutes for language expression such as abbreviations and emojis: quick, convenient and accurate ways to communicate. This does not, however, work in an adult world, where accurate, detailed, polite and rigorously-defined communication is demanded, all day long. 

Managers are dismayed, unnerved and disappointed at the lack of communication skills of otherwise intelligent and hard-working college graduates they hire, around the world. These kids simply do not know how to put together a simple e-mail… and they don’t seem to care. 

When I was teaching English Composition for Business at London School of Public Relations-Jakarta, from 2003 ~ 2009, I would attempt to get through to the nice but shallow students, most of whom were spoiled rich kids. 


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