Once upon a time, humans communicated entirely by ooga agaaring to the person next to them. Communities were small. They left home to run out and kill game then came home, dragging their supper by the antlers and handed it to their mate. All one needed to get their message across was to, after scratching their lice into submission, speak.

As time progressed, we came to the realisation that sometimes, one needs to project a message across plains and rivers. We sought out people with an extra lung and used them to transport the messages. We also found a way to train pigeons to carry the same messages to their intended recipients. With time we found that these too had their flaws; pigeons every so often had to take a dump. And people with extra lungs sometimes became a meal for one animal or another.

We went back to the drawing board and hit our heads against a rock (because proper walls were rare) until another idea sprung to life. We decided that the runner could benefit from using something even more powerful than him to get from place to place; a horse. He would get the message, jump on to the horse and gallop off to the destination. All the animals that had previously had him for dinner now had a hard time keeping up with him on the horse. Winning. This held fort till we realised that if there was a river, lake, mountain or any such thing along the path, chances are the man wouldn’t carry the horse across.

Fast forward to today; several engineers later, we have SMS and WhatsApp. No horses. No doves. Type. Message delivered. A laugh. Reply received. The message; more said in less space, no chance of lions intercepting it, not affected by mountains, rivers and lakes and most importantly, no pigeons soiling it. I was going somewhere profound with this well-researched, incisive article but the word count is upon me like the hump on a camel. If I had more space, I’d have developed this into a persuasive, heart-wrenching don’t-text-while-driving appeal.

I would also have placed a few well-calculated blows on text-speak’s face. I would then have tugged at heart strings with a fervent appeal to keep said text-speak out of CVs and interview rooms. But the word count has been reached.

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