Communicating in a Word Desert

[Editor’s note: The content of this blog is the opinion of the author, writer Miriam Ruff, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of AceReader, Inc. or its employees.]

The word “communication” comes from the Latin noun communicatio, which meant a sharing or imparting having to do with an exchange or goods possessed by more than one person. We communicate, by speech, by writing, and by reading, by sharing words with each other to express actions and ideas and the realm of what’s possible but unknown.

The idea of word value, though, has radically changed over the last few years, as we’ve moved from written letters and long conversations to a world of text, Twitter, and sound bites, where brevity is the desired goal, and words are routinely replaced by a shorthand of pithy statements, abbreviations and emojis.

And that means we’re no longer masters of our own words in many ways. Consider Gmail’s relatively new “Smart Compose” feature. Instead of having to type out an entire sentence by yourself, Google uses an algorithm to predict what you’re likely to say next based on average responses, and you just have to hit “Enter” to make it so. No long thought processes to figure out the best word or phrase for the job — just do what’s most expeditious and move on.

As Book World editor Stephanie Merry observed, “The technology is a stark reminder that our exchanges have devolved into something so meaningless, a robot could do them. … [and] when we become estranged from our words, we also become estranged from each other.”[1]

It feels like words don’t matter anymore — except they do. Hateful rhetoric, especially plastered all over social media, shows just how damaging words can be to a single person or an entire group. Riots all over the world occur because  lies and racist slurs and the voice of party politics fuel them, not reasoned consideration of a well-worded argument. But in the same way, well-chosen words can see the rise of new movements, new ideas, and new opportunities for positive change, provided they’re allowed to grow.

Technology isn’t all bad, and I don’t want to make it sound like it is. We’re witnessing some incredible revolutions in science and medicine that continue to push us forward into a potentially improved future. But until we reconnect with our words, their intent, and their meanings, we stand at the edge of a precipice that may well engulf us all.

Maybe the way back is through little actions, like turning off Smart Compose and planning out your own words to reflect what you truly want to say. Maybe we need to find out a little more about the person sitting next to us rather than continually watching sound bites on our phones or typing nothing more than the ubiquitous LOL.

There are a lot of maybes, and I don’t have all — or even a lot — of the answers. What do you think about the value of words and our seemingly lost art of communication? Leave your comments and suggestions in the section below.



[1] Merry, Stephanie. (October 26, 2018). “Google wants to write your emails for you. It’s time to draw the line.” Retrieved from


Author: AceReader Blogger

The AceReader blogging team is made up of specialists in a number of different areas: literacy, general education, content development, and educational software. For questions about posts, please submit them in the form below. For suggestions about blog topics, please email them to

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