Monday, August 19, 2013

Please don't Tweet my Facebook Page!

One of my friends actually wrote that message last week: Please don't tweet my Facebook page. And I realized how completely incomprehensible it would be to anyone from a past generation--heck, to anyone ten years ago.

I know that language is constantly developing but I'm sure that during the Middle Ages they didn't have to learn a new vocabulary every ten years. An ox was an ox. An ass was an ass. Beer was beer. Life was simple and didn't change. Even when I was growing up there were people in my village who had never been up to London, some 30 miles away. Their lives progressed at the same pace as their ancestors' had done.

I suppose radio and then TV changed all that. Suddenly we are aware of what the rest of the world is doing. Of what is trending.... and that is one trend of which I am not fond... the fashion of turning nouns into verbs. Neither am I fond of shrinking speech and vocabulary to minimum. Wassup? is a classic example. As is R U my BFF?

This is one of the reasons I enjoy setting my books in the past. My grandmother and great aunts had excellent vocabularies, spoke in long poetic sentences and wrote wonderfully descriptive letters. Letter writing was an art for them. Letters flowed between family members every week, taking the place of phone calls and texts. I'm sure my grandmother never used words such as "like" and "you know" or worse still "know what I mean?" We did know what she meant because she had been raised to express herself clearly.

I have to remember this when I write my books. There was more time. Personal interactions were not rushed. Conversation was an art. People were well read in books that didn't have to rush to the punch line and have explosions and dead bodies all over the place. A time of leisure and grace. Ah, how I long for it now.

So how do you feel? Do you wish we'd lived in a more leisurely age? I suppose I have to remind myself that they had no antibiotics and your child might die from an infected cut or the flu. They had no washing machines and wore the same dresses for months on end. And they traveled over bumpy roads on metal tires, and childbirth...well, we won't even go into that one.


  1. I am in complete agreement. If I receive a text that is
    filled with abbreviations and "text speak" I will not respond to it, my family and friends know this very well. In fact I've only just succumbed to texting in the last year and a half. I still have not fallen victim to Facebook yet but it's becoming more and more difficult, your page and decreased activity here are a prime example. That being said there are many perks to here and now including medical and technological advances that make life better and easier, strangely enough however we seem to have less time to sit back, relax and truly connect with people.

  2. I wouldn't go back to an earlier age, even if I could be sure I'd be the lady pouring out the tea and not the poor maid who schlepped it up all those stairs. I love historical fiction--from the comfort of my well-heated or cooled, electrically lit home with its indoor plumbing. We had a power outage a few years ago that lasted four days. It was quite some time before I could find fires or candlelight romantic.

    I do wonder why, with so much less physical labor required of most of us, we haven't got the time to write a letter. Some people can't even be bothered to answer the telephone. Who on earth is really that busy all the time?

  3. I agree w/Jane re her last paragraph. Why are people so busy when in so many ways our lives are easier?

    Were the leisurely times referenced in this lovely post just experienced by the wealthier folks? I know that literate people of all socioeconomic classes would stay in touch via letters, and it's a wonderful art that needs to be supported in this era. But most studies show that we've lived in a time with a lot of leisure. Or, at least, up until 2008. Something else is at work that erodes our leisure time. I suspect it's a combination of instant gratification, other ongoing commitments to volunteer work, child-rearing & its related activities, and that our self-discipline has shifted away from pursuits that are time-consuming, such as letter-writing, and used for things such as going to the gym, volunteer/community work, and for women, other attendant opportunities since we now have more professional opportunities.

    My love for the art of letter-writing is why I now have a penpal and try to stay in touch with others at least via a handwritten note, thank you note and handwritten Christmas cards.

    I value time spent with a good book set in the past. I know that we have opportunities to blend the past with the present by age-old craftwork, letter-writing and the appreciation of vintage fashions, styles and wares. I think that this is a decent balance.

  4. I think a lot of people are "busy" playing around on the internet. Between facebook, email, web surfing, blog reading, game playing, texting, etc, people are choosing to do those things rather than write a letter or connect with a friend in person.

  5. I love your books for that reason. It seems like a much more genteel, leisurely time even though we all know that most people did not live as your characters do. As an African American woman I definitely could not have been to the manor born. Still, I love taking my time and reading your mysteries. I make it a point to purchase the printed version rather than the e-book (when available) so that I can thoroughly enjoy the reading experience.