Brevity may, as Shakespeare wrote, be the soul of wit but it can have its pitfalls in this age of texting, Twitter, Facebook and say what you mean in no more than 100 words. Witness the text received from a close relative cancelling a social engagement: “Won’t make it this eve, tho not sure we will be a great loss; broke up today and have disengaged brain.” Bear in mind she had recently started a new relationship and finished her text by saying she was disappearing into the wilds for a couple of weeks.
Saddened by the news, I replied with brief commiserations and said it sounded like she needed a drink so why not come along regardless. Which she did and, much to my surprise, with new partner still in tow – which was cause for a fresh outburst of congratulations that puzzled them greatly.
Yes, they had broken up that very same day. But only because they are both schoolteachers and this was the end of term!
Such is the risk for misundertanding in a world where brevity rules and all explanations, clarifications and those subtle nuances of true correspondence have been obliterated. The shoot-from-the-hip Twitterers have become the trigger- happy language terrorists of the iPod age, killing the niceties of the written word at random.