"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Thursday, June 2, 2011

SMS (re-post: 10.10.10)

Communication is the key. Below is a piece I wrote in October of 2010 concerning the history of our English language, the technical advances of how we communicate today and the importance of substantive communication. I hope you enjoy and I hope you communicate well today. 
-sbb 6.2.11 


Communication: the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.

When I first saw this drawing by a little girl named Lucia I knew I was going to write about it. My attention was held captive by the authenticity, the originality and the innocence the picture displayed. I knew I was going to write about it and use the drawing as the "centerpiece" of my piece; I just wasn't sure what I wanted to communicate.

As I pondered Lucia's artwork for three days it ignited a desire in me to research the beginnings of our English language and to gain an understanding on why we communicate the way we do. Many of you reading this are very familiar with my love for research; if only I could make a "six seven figure" salary doing research on topics and then provide a detailed outline, with "bullet points", to someone, anyone, I would be in heaven. 

Also, provide me with an Apple iMac (27" monitor) then I will be good to go. I would quit my job today, do research and write a book. I would be set.
Enough about what I want (besides, I'm getting the Mac next year for Christmas... watch me), this piece is about a six year old girl named Lucia, how we as a society communicate with each other and her perfect little talent. A talent that displays such originality and simplicity that most art majors, and advertisers, would do well to revisit the powerful premise that messages are best when they are simple and concise.

Greatness is usually elementary in form, void of false pretense or false humility.

As I mentioned earlier, I was interested in the genesis of the English language and to see if anyone else noticed that the way we communicate is changing faster than most our abilities to keep up.

If you don't believe me look at "". There are over 82 million people that text on a daily basis and with the advent of this new form of communication a new language has arrived with it that is rapidly becoming the communication tool and style of choice... if it isn't already.

For better or worse acronyms like "OMG & LOL" are here and they are here to stay.

Before we can to begin to understand where we are today we must first gain an understanding of where we came from. The English language has been around since 450 B.C. and came about due to an invasion.

Nothing like a good invasion to get the party started. 

The history of the English language really found it's beginning with the invasion of three Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century A.D. The three tribes were the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. They crossed the North Sea from what is known today as Denmark and northern Germany. This began the period in England's history as the "Anglo-Saxon" period. At the time most of the people living in Britain spoke a Celtic language. As the invasion progressed most of the inhabitants that spoke Celtic were pushed into what is now known as Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

The Angles came from "Englaland" and their language was called "Englisc"... from which the words England and English are derived. And from these early beginnings we have seen the English language endure four phases ending with the phase we reside in now; the "Late Modern English" (1800-present) phase. The four periods of the English language for those who are keeping score at home are as follows:

           1. Old English (450-1100 AD)
Old English would be very difficult to speak and even more difficult to understand today. Nevertheless, almost half of the most commonly used words in the Modern English have Old English roots. For example the words "be", "strong" and "water" finds their origins in the Old English language...

           2. Middle English (1100-1500)

During this phase the new conquerors from what is known as France today brought with them a kind of French language that ultimately became the language of the Royal Court. When William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy as he was referred to as, invaded England the new language he brought with him ignited a "linguistic" class division. The poor spoke English and the rich spoke French. And now I know why the French are so arrogant. Thankfully, English became the dominant language again in Britain in the 14th century. This language became known as the "Middle English". It was the language of the great poet Chaucer, who is best known today for his great poem, "The Canterbury Tales".

           3. Early Modern English (1500-1800) 

During this stage a sudden and very distinctive change in the pronunciation of vowels began to take shape. This shift is referred to as the "Great Vowel Shift", not to be confused with the "Great Bowel Shift" that is taking place in my baby daughters diapers as we speak (or as I type and you read). I loosely use the term "shift" if you get my drift. Anyway, during this great shift in which we began to pronounce our vowels in a much shorter fashion and the fact that in the 16th century the British came in contact with many people from around the world meant that new words and phrases entered the language. The fact that the British came in contact with more people all across the globe, coupled with the Renaissance of Classic learning taking place, both ushered in a new dawn in the English language. Also, during this time printing standardized English, books became cheaper and more people learned how to read. With this progress came a fixed structure for spelling and English. The distinctive dialect of London became standard because London was where most of the writers and publishing houses resided. During this time, William Caxton invents the first printing press (1476), Shakespeare was born and died (1564-1616), the first dictionary is published (1604) and the first English-language newspaper, The Daily Courant, is published in London.

           4. Late Modern English (1800-Present)

Vocabulary is the main difference between the Early Modern and Late Modern English periods. The English we speak today has many more words. This is my wife's excuse for talking so much. She says that there are many more ways, and words, to explain how she feels. I am women, hear me Talk. Anyway, there were two principal factors that contributed to the increase of our vocabulary: the first was the Industrial Revolution and the technology that created a need for more words. Secondly, the British Empire covered one quarter of the earth's surface during this time, and because of this fact the English language adopted foreign words from many countries.

Now we find ourselves in a new phase of sorts in the English language. A period of communication that is fueled by incredible technology and limited only by our imagination... if you can think it most likely we can make it happen. And while "SMS" (Short Messaging System) is the current trend of communicating, along with email and cell phone, we need to take notice that communication is more than just 160 characters. 

Texting is just another reminder that our life has quickened to an out of control pace, a pace 'we' created, and that rat race type of pace we live has caused us to become over stressed, over scheduled and over worked. 

And we are doing all of this with less sleep.

With this out of control schedule, lack of sleep and the fact that the average person experiences over 200 interruptions a day is it any wonder that 36% of adult males in a recent poll said they were "over stressed". The rate for women with children that were stressed was even higher.


As well as being over stressed we are over worked. The average married couple works "114" hours a week. The man works on average 48 hours a week whereas women are working 41 hours a week, plus another 25 hours a week once they arrive home. There are so many things I could say about that statistic but I'm going to refrain from stating the obvious.

As I mentioned earlier, we are doing all of this while sleeping less. In 1850 the average person slept 9.5 hours a day, in 1950 it was 8 hours and in 1990 it was, and still is, 7 hours a night.

The bottom line is the average American gets 2.5 hours less sleep than they did a100 years ago.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
   be pleasing in your sight,
   LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
-Psalm 19:14

A vast majority of Americans would agree that we have allowed our communication to suffer the same demise that our day to day lives has experienced. Our communication, like many peoples lives, is rushed, less personal and void of any emotional investment or substantive content. And ironically, because texting is less personal it's easier for all involved to say personal things that they wouldn't say in person and to send personal images that they wouldn't send otherwise. 

How much of what we text would we put in a letter or a personalized note? How many of the highly personal and inappropriate images, or pictures, would we send to someone we barley know in the mail?  

Please don't misunderstand me, all communication doesn't need to be a Hallmark card but there needs to be some thought put into what and how we communicate with others from time to time.

One only needs to examine the shift in designing and building homes over the past forty years to see the sad trend of our neighborhoods becoming less personal in much of the same way our communication has become impersonal over the last ten years.

Both are very similar.

Many of us remember a time, or have at the very least seen photos of old homes, where most of the homes had a "front porch". 

In every neighborhood across America people were often seen sitting on their front porch responding to cars honking their horns and watching kids play "in the street". Today, many of us are aware that most of the neighborhoods in America have removed the traditional front porch from most homes. That once wonderful communal experience has since been moved to the backyards of America.

No more is that community connection lived out in the front yards of America.

And while this geographical shift from the front porch to the backyard has taken place it has left us somehow less connected with those around us. It is very difficult to find a new housing development today building homes with real front porches; it is even tougher to find people using them if their house has a porch. 

This single architectural paradigm shift moved us farther from our neighbors and our community. 

We used to watch out for others in the neighborhood and our neighborhood watched out for us. Gone are the days that we know everyone on our street and wave to people passing buy. Now we pull into our garage, put down the garage door and retreat to our media rooms or our backyards with the privacy fence. America has moved from their collective front porches to their backyard brick patios, and all of this has been done in the name of privacy. 

Case & point: My in-laws backyard...
(They actually have a beautiful front porch too)

We have become more distant.

Texting has done the same thing; it has made us more distant from each other. Even though we communicate more we actually say less because our communication is hurried, distracted and often without little thought, and all of this has been done in the name of technology. We actually have less real contact. 

Once again, we have become more distant.

And though we are becoming more "connected" via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube one must ask the question: Are we really becoming more connected? Are we? Does our contact with others have any substance? Does it really have any meaning? Like I said earlier, many of us talk more on our phone but in all actuality we say less; when we text we say even less. Our texting is just another example of our hurried and busy lives. We would much rather text someone than to talk to them; we would much rather email someone than write them a letter. And while many of us have anywhere from 100 to 2000 friends on Facebook most of us are lucky if we know 50% of the people we call "friends" on Facebook.

My point is that we are saying less to more people. We abbreviate our feelings and reduce our thoughts to three letter acronyms and little emoticons. Sometimes the key is to "touch" someone not just contact them. 

One of the toughest, and best managers, I've ever had is a man by the name of Tony D'Angelo. Tony always asked if 'today' I 'touched' a prospective advertiser (I sold TV advertising at one time) that we were trying to get on the air. When I first began at the station I would tell him that I sent them an email earlier in the day. He would always follow my comment in kind with this statement; "I didn't ask if you sent them an email, I asked if you touched them... did you speak with them"

The message here is that often times contacting someone isn't enough, sometimes you have to reach out and touch someone to make a difference.

Lucia & Mom... and "glitter" 

In a roundabout way that is what Lucia did to me... she touched me. She reminded me that all forms of communication are important and valuable, and no matter the language or the form of communication I use it always comes back to my tone and attitude. 

It's not what I say it's how I say it that will create the most impact.

I was also reminded the importance of writing a letter to someone that is in a difficult situation or is grieving the loss of a love one, or that a simple thank you card or note that acknowledges the success or milestone in one's life that will create the most impact and stir the deepest of emotions.

A letter has that kind of power.

Maybe it is all of that and the fact that each generation that follows needs to be reminded that though their form of communication can be, and is, very cool, efficient and a time saver it should never replace the beauty of genuine correspondence. Always remember, a heartfelt letter and a stamp is all that is needed to touch someone in a very deep and meaningful way... we need to make sure our children know this truth and we as parents must make sure we display this truth in our own lives.
Technology is great, let's just make sure we don't lose real connection with other people. The quality of our conversations is more important than the mode of communication we use to communicate. :)

idk...OMG i thk i just learned sthing new... i hope u did 2... lol! ttyl...B4N... thks agin Lucia 4 the grt pics.!

sbb 10.10.10

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