Certain advisors keep telling me that, in order to sell my book in promised vast quantities, I should start tweeting, or become a regular correspondent on Facebook. I keep resisting. It is one thing writing occasional updates to this website, which I’m happy to do, but it’s something rather more demanding, and I think demeaning, trying to maintain a constant dialogue with strangers. The fact is that I’m just not as enthused as some by the phenomenon we call social media. Call me a Luddite, as someone did recently (without, I suspect, knowing what Luddism means) but in those matters that mean something to me, I regard myself as a perfectly modern-thinking man, with views that I consider to be well thought out rather than repeated prejudices simply predetermined by my age. By the way, I own a Blackberry – a marvelous piece of technology, rather wasted on me I’m afraid, since it has dozens more functions than I need or could possibly handle. So far I have happily survived without them.
My opinions about the state of the English language, which I’d describe as approaching parlous, are similarly old-fashioned. I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge that usage changes over time. What I’m not happy about is the way oral communication increasingly is being undermined by an apparent unwillingness to consider what is being said beyond reverting lazily to the prevailing jargon. Listening to most of the callers on radio programmes – not something I do regularly – underlines the extent to which discourse is being degraded. Why people incapable of expressing themselves properly insist on calling in to demonstrate the point is beyond me. Half of them start off with, “Basically, what I’d like to say is….” and then go on to trot out a procession of almost inevitable clichés such as “at the end of the day” or “it’s a nightmare” or “I was gutted”, while “unbelievable” and “absolutely” seem to have become almost de rigueur. There, that’s my first pedantic little rant of the New Year out of the way.
Meanwhile, basically, a happy and healthy 2011 to you all.