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Is Social Media Changing The Way We Write?

December 31st, 2015

neill-weatherill.blogIt seems to me that the downward slide towards illiteracy started amongst the texting classes in the mid-90s. That probably sounds a little harsh and maybe part of it is down to jealousy, I never did get the hang of predictive texting. I’d take 10 minutes asking my daughter(s) a simple question and would get a novel back in 30 seconds. Must be an age thing?

Let’s roll forward a few years and the little book of faces. To everyone’s kids’ horror, when it ‘went viral’, parents joined in. The accusation was that we were checking up on them but speaking on our behalf, it was a realisation that it was set to be the only means of cross-generational communication left open to us. Interestingly, I used the term ‘went viral’, a term associated with social networks but one that almost describes how they came to be so popular. Life imitating art, you could say.

Back to my point then. Written communication in this form is instant. It is in the moment. Twitter and Instagram have taken it one step further even than Facebook. No time to agonise over punctuation, grammar or even spelling. As long as you get your point across, does it really matter if we oldies don’t get it?

After all, English is a hybrid language, more so than any other in the western world I would say. It has absorbed many influences from Europe and the Commonwealth over the years so why not accept a bit from the good old U S of A, the major source of and driving force behind social networking?

If the OED is happy to LOL at someone twerking, why shouldn’t we accept that it’s just our language evolving. But don’t get me started on there, their and they’re; that’s a different subject altogether and one for much livelier debate.

What we must learn to do as writers is to be flexible. I know I struggle with the concept at times, but there is a time and a place for ‘text speak’, whether we write fact or fiction. But perhaps it’s best to leave it out of job applications.

So Messy Christian and a Happen New Yeast to you Al [sent from my mobile device]. Still haven’t got the hang of it, have I?

C u l8r, Neill.


My Bio:

Former office and shop assistant turned computer programmer, progressing to freelance I.T. consultant and in amongst all of that, part-time bar steward and drayman. I now live in France, having built and running a wheelchair-accessible gîte: www.ancheyra.com. So I have lots to write about but before I began, I thought I’d learn how to do it properly.




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