Am I old?

God, I just can’t stand it.  But every bleeping day there’s yet another sign that yes indeedy, I’m getting old(er).

In an email I received yesterday, someone used the acronym FWIW to begin a paragraph.  I had no idea what it meant.  It took me an hour and two phone calls to figure it out:  For What It’s Worth.  (Which is much nicer and cleaner than anything I came up with.)

Of course I flew into a steaming diatribe against texting and how it’s degrading the English language and how we’re all going to be illiterates unable to read words with vowels within the next decade. 

But then, after I calmed down and had a cocktail last night, a different, and somewhat scary, perspective fuzzied up my logic.

The thing is, I can’t specifically say what’s wrong with texting.  The English language has never been static.  It’s in a continual state of flux and change.  It is different than it was 500 years ago, and almost unidentifiable from its form of 1,000 years ago–and nothing horrible happened because of that state of change. So why does it bother me so much when I experience it changing in front of me?

I think it’s because I’m getting older. 

Let’s face it, the world continues to change and go faster all the time and the only people who have problems with it are the older folk.

Like the elderly woman at Acme Grocer the other day.  She accidentally got in the self-checkout line, thinking it was a wider aisle for the handicapped.  While she fumbled with the machine and created a line of smug, sighing, eye-rolling impatients behind her, I could tell she was becoming more and more angry and defensive.  I stepped up to help her scan, bag and pay.  She thanked me, begrudgingly.  Then there was an off-hand remark about how “these damn machines” are destroying the world as we know it; making everyone anti-social.

Is it because I’m younger than she and have never had a checking account without a debit card that the self-checkout line only seems to make sense?  I don’t think I’m anti-social.  Most of the cashiers are rude as hell to begin with.  So if I have a chance to check out without dealing with them it makes me a happier person, hence more apt to be social with people I want to socialize with.

But, if I was thirty or forty years older and had come into adulthood speaking to “the girl” behind the counter as I write my personal check for my food, would I be as happy with the self-checkouts as I am now? 

And, if I was twenty or thirty years younger and had yet to develop my adult habits, would I still be upset with how texting is changing the way we spell and use grammar?

Perhaps fighting age has nothing to do with anti-wrinkle creams and plastic surgery.  Perhaps we should let go of the fight against graying hairs and start fighting ourselves whenever we insist on keeping the status quo. Prhps.

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Filed under Age, Commentary, Definitions

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