Life & Arts Opinion

Real-life letters and the art of 'posting'

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(Image by Jaymantri | Pexels)

Mick and Bazza 'pic' a pub to discuss the substance of selfies over a few schooners.

MICK WENDED his way through the gathering late afternoon patrons and landed the two schooners on the bar table.

Bazza nodded a "g’day" and motioned to lift the schooner.

“Wooo up, Bazza!”

Mick flicked out his mobile phone and took photographs of the two schooners at various angles, including a ‘selfie’. He scrolled through his phone to post the photographs, looked up and grinned.

Bazza shook his head and blinked repeatedly.

“I like to let everyone know what I am doing, Bazza. They will look at the photo and know I am having a beer.”

They both took a decent sip and Bazza rubbed his chin.

“But why, Mick? Do you for a moment think people will stop what they are doing, look at the photograph and say to the person next to them, ‘Look… Mick is having a schooner. How about that, eh?’ And chat away for ages. I just don’t get it.”

Mick sighed and leaned in.

“Cynical. Bazza, you have become so bloody cynical. Sending a photograph is a great way to communicate. A picture tells a thousand words. That’s why everyone does it.”

A long pause.

“Well... actually, it doesn’t, Mick. Most people pose for a photograph, so it’s a false impression. In 'selfies', people are almost always smiling even though their world might be falling apart. It does not tell me anything about how they are feeling or what is important to them. All it does is assure me they are alive and in some cool setting.”

Bazza took a sip.

“You see, Mick, we might as well go back to the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics if we are to communicate by images.”

Mick raised an eyebrow.

“Ahhhhh… Bazza, you can always add an emoji if you want to express a bit of feeling.”

Bazza took a long sip.

“Bloody hell… another image. Why don’t we use words? You know... the English Language? Even when we go on holiday, we tend to communicate by photographs. I am better off scrolling through National Geographic for more professional images. Now… once upon a time…”

Mick screwed his eyes.

“Crikey… here we go, Bazza. You are about to get on your high horse. I should film and post this sermon.”

Bazza half smiled.

“As a young bloke, Mick, it was the opposite. When I travelled through India, I would not dream of sending photographs home. Developing photographs and sending them home via post was a very expensive and time-consuming exercise.”

Bazza paused for a sip. Mick rolled his eyes.

“Instead, each week, I used to buy an aerogramme and cram as much tiny handwriting into every available space. The writing would cover my well-being, adventures, views and descriptions of the country. I would also nominate a post office to receive poste restante letters from home. The photographs were secondary. In fact, I waited until I got home to have them developed."

Mick took a sip and sighed.

“What’s your point, Bazza?”

Bazza sighed.

“Declining literacy skills, Mick… use them or lose them. Do I need to draw you a picture?”

John Longhurst is a former industrial advocate and political adviser. He currently works as an English and History teacher on the South Coast of NSW.

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