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Living in a different world



Yes&Know By Aline Yamashita

I was enjoying the latest episode of Magnum P.I., where Thomas and Higgy discuss the prospect of having children. When Thomas exclaimed, “IRL,” I shook my head.


Here we go again. Our language shifts in ways that have me looking for understanding. Speaking in code confuses me.


Fortunately, Google provides immediate help. IRL – in real life. But of course. What else could it be?


I am not sure why we have to acronymize words. Are we that short on time?

The shifting of how we communicate must have my former teachers turning over in their graves. Particularly, my English and French teachers. We spent countless hours drilling the conjugation of verbs. Today, I am confused about pronouns. It is hard to understand how we eliminated the third-person singular column altogether.


As I stand tall for respect and regard, I do not understand how to be that with pronouns. I could refer to a person by their first name but there comes a point when he, she, it rolls off my tongue. Then, I freeze. Oh, oh. Did I just offend someone? Or are we supposed to always use the third person plural – every subject is “they?”


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Other things have changed. Like, the planets. We used to recite the nine planets, create poster boards with the planets, and act out the planets as we orbited around the room. Now, Pluto is no longer a planet. Come to find out, many planets have been removed over the ages.


Clouds. The types of clouds have evolved. I suppose that has to do with climate and the changing environment. Also, places have disappeared. Land erodes. This is why so much is now invested in sustainability for our environment. People are trying to turn around the effects of how we live.


The bottom line is learning is fluid.


But it was numbing doing the rote memorization. Now, it does not really matter. Well, it does in that it got us here but there no longer matters.


Typing is another class where we practiced and practiced drills. Sister Peter had us banging on the manual typewriters. Today, texting is queen. I prefer typing correspondence. I make fewer errors. Even if I check my text, after I send it, words automatically transform. Then, I spend time correcting my messages. Sigh.


Maybe it’s an age thing. I have watched my oldest son text. He does so without looking at his phone. How can he do that? But he does.


Communication these days has become trying. I would prefer picking up a phone and speaking with another. It is rare, though, when a human voice answers. A recording typically greets you, which asks that you listen to the menu and make a selection. When you mess up, you must start again.

Communication has become distant, I think. Maybe it is due to the pandemic, but folks seem to prefer keeping their distance.


As content, though, is fluid, the human need for others is even greater now – whether folks realize it or not. Our students are the biggest group to suffer from the loss of human interaction.


Emotionally and socially, they do not know how to be with others – because they are not with others. The current public school schedule where some grades alternate online with face-to-face is a huge disservice to these growing minds. Listen to the teachers. They will share how students do not know how to be with others in group settings. By extension, this means their conflict resolution skills are stunted. Without guided practice about how to listen to differences and how to address differences, emotions become powder kegs. Triggers that should be minuscule are not. The students suffer the consequences. Learning how to be human takes much work.


FWIW, YOLO and IMHO, IRL, make the difference. There is no acronym for the last three words. IRL should not be an abbreviation, either. JS.


Aline Yamashita is a mom, a teacher and former senator. She served in the 31st and 32nd Guam Legislatures. Send feedback to aline4families@gmail.com.




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