Can U Read & Rite?
This means that bopping around the Internet requires the ability to read. Kids are far more intellectually challenged by the Internet than vegging out in front of a TV set with a remote channel changer and a bag of Twizzlers. Kids read fine. It's just that so much on the Internet-and elsewhere-is literary crap that they've devised a kind of new-wave Gregg shorthand.
For example, I ordered the Kindle edition of Mark Twain's complete works for a paltry $4.79. But having gotten used to the splendidly facile prose of Ian Fleming and Bob Woodward, Twain is heavy slogging. I skip a lot.
I think today's kids, who grew up with the Internet, are brilliant. They can absorb vast amounts of information and communicate quickly and with precision using text-write (or whatever it's called). It's just that the use of acronyms and emoticons irritates the hell out of the old-timers and purists, who are too old to learn another language and assume communication skills are dying.
What must be taught is when NOT to use texting shorthand. Among the no-no places: on résumés, on cover letters that accompany résumés, thank-you letters to relatives who sent birthday checks, interoffice memos and proposals that will be seen by people other than texting buddies, etc.
No old-time stenographer would have dreamed of sending a letter or a memo in Gregg shorthand.
A Special Treat: The Worst Lead in the World!
In May 2006, I bought a copy of Harper's Magazine at the railroad station. After starting Ben Metcalf's article, "On Simple Human Decency," I decided that I would never read another issue of Harper's, or anything else that Lewis H. Lapham edits or writes. Here is Ben Metcalf's lead paragraph:
I. Before I attempt to fill these pages with my disgust, which the odd reader who knows me will surely expect, I am obliged to address a preliminary concern, which that same odd reader may safely ignore. Some time has passed since I last raised my voice to the multitude, and whereas literary taste does not seem to have advanced much in the interim, and I assume is still arrayed so as to engage only the weak-minded and dull, I find that I am no longer able to discern with any accuracy where the bounds of simple human decency lie. This would bother me even less than does the taste issue were it not for the fact that ground gained or lost in the theater of decency tends now and then to affect the law, and it has long been a personal goal of mine to avoid capture and imprisonment.