Speech is natural. Writing is not. The alphabet was invented only once, but the vowels were missing at first. Oral memory supplied them for a while. Then someone had the brilliant idea of inventing the vowel letters. The first successful voice recorder was the Greek alphabet. It was also a trans-lator, an instrument for carrying things across, as any language could be represented using the consonant-vowel alphabet. International written communication expanded.
Orality retreated behind more and more writing, which made more and more things possible. Then everything worth saying was written down. Writing counted more than speaking. Knowledge left the ground level and took lodgings on the upper shelves.
The bubble grew bigger and writing more sophisticated. Styles developed and put speech to shame. Speech came to be seen as volatile and deceptive, while writing was the abode of truth – verba volant, scripta manent. Enduring truth, winged deceit.
The development of writing has its critical points, where it exhausts itself and brings about new forms. Social media is one such form. Orthographic normativity weakens and phonetic (mis)spelling develops. Speech washes over script, while image disconnects itself from sound and creates the evocative emoji. Gifs take us back to the firelit cave, where an image is worth a thousand (uninvented, unwritten) words.