I found this recent piece from New York Magazine interesting. One quote in particular, on the development of language from necessity to full-fledged, living, breathing thing, really caught my eye:
Younger people […] are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion. Every street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.
So it may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones. For someone like me, who grew up sealing my diary with a literal lock, this may be tough to accept. But under current circumstances, a defiant belief in holding things close to your chest might not be high-minded. It might be an artifact—quaint and naïve, like a determined faith that virginity keeps ladies pure. Or at least that might be true for someone who has grown up “putting themselves out there” and found that the benefits of being transparent make the risks worth it.
Shirky describes this generational shift in terms of pidgin versus Creole. “Do you know that distinction? Pidgin is what gets spoken when people patch things together from different languages, so it serves well enough to communicate. But Creole is what the children speak, the children of pidgin speakers. They impose rules and structure, which makes the Creole language completely coherent and expressive, on par with any language. What we are witnessing is the Creolization of media.”
That’s a cool metaphor, I respond. “I actually don’t think it’s a metaphor,” he says. “I think there may actually be real neurological changes involved.”
It reminds me of a couple quotes I like:
“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”
—Benjamin Lee Whorf
“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”
“All men dream, but not equally.”
The article is about the new internet generation and their embracing the lack of privacy the people over 30 tend to convince themselves doesn’t exist (yet). They’ve embraced internet slang, mashups, and even rendered proper sentence structure to emotives and more intuitive communication structures akin to the personal interpretation prevalent in languages such as ancient Hebrew and Japanese. I think this return back to intuitive, subjective use of language is of particular importance, as it harkens back to more magical interactions with one another through a shared language — not a language predicated by the blacks and white of English grammar where our tools are defined for us, not by us so that we have a wisdom (knowledge + experience = wisdom) of what we're communicating to one another.
Of course, contemporary adults fear this. Adults fear almost everything they don't understand. I don't need to expound too much on this, but I wanted to make this post for posterity’s sake so I can refer back to it.