Social media has become an integral way in which society connects today. Ideas, images and conversations are able to reach opposite ends of the world, thanks to the simple click of a button. Likes, subscriptions and comments are now the highest praises one person can give to another. It takes control of a large portion of our day. But, at what cost does social media affect our other modes of communication?
The question of whether social media is hindering the growth of formal language has sparked many debates regarding the quality of writing in the “real world.” Is social media ruining the brains of the younger generation, or does everyone else have to adapt to this linguistic shift?
The glowing screen laying upon our bedside table or ideally thrown across the room in an unreachable location, holds immense power. We soak up information like a sponge as our eyes gloss over short videos of animals or threads of rare Vines. The point of social media is rooted in the fast rate of receiving information.
Social media does not require you to set aside a chunk of your schedule for scrolling through Instagram. It is not an appointment or conflict in your day. But, the fast-paced nature of social media has opened up the playing field to a range of possibilities and creativity.
In the two hours and four minutes the average American spends on social media per day, according to a 2019 report from DataReportal, users have created and put into practice their own online lingo. With platforms such as Twitter, ideas are restricted to a certain word count. Writing a tweet about your dog’s birthday party shouldn’t require blood, sweat and tears with an attached works cited page, (although I would do anything for my dog.) Users recognized the length restrictions, created their own language to adapt to those limits and are now using their new vocabulary to the fullest potential. Users have to search their brain quickly for clever and witty responses.
However, the bulk of the online population has become so familiar with the language of social media that it doesn’t take much brain power anymore. Small words such as “meme” and “stan” or talking in the form of “astrology Twitter” have become common vocabulary choices in the modern online world. A person can post their feelings in one sentence and immediately relate to the minds of a large crowd.
Now in the world of texting, informal language actually has its perks. While some of us do not particularly enjoy mornings, it is not ideal to wake up to a four-page essay about how your friend claims she found the best curry in town, breaking down each flavor profile of her dish. Simply saying, “Hey you should try this restaurant I went to last night. They have really good curry,” gets the job done.
Are Twitter and texting causing the world to go backwards in its language performance? Are we gradually becoming less linguistically smart? It’s all based in perspective. It is the vehicle in which language is conveyed. As with etiquette and behavior, there is a place and time for certain aspects of language to be utilized. Try not to overthink whether a text needs an extra comma or period. Save it for that 10-page paper you have due this week.