How the English Language and Social Media Affect One Another

One of the constants of modern life is the complaint that no one knows how to speak or write properly any longer. There are always people decrying the negative effect that modern technology has on language and gloomily predicting that in a few decades, we will live in a society of illiterates who can barely string two words together. What such gloomy prophecies ignore is the simple fact that language is always in a state of perpetual flux. It is not and cannot be fixed in place, unchanging and permanent. New technologies obviously affect how we speak and write, yet most of us are unaware that many of our own linguistic habits are equally the result of technological changes.

As more and more people spend time communicating through social media, these communication channels have obviously begun to affect how we speak and write. Ironically, despite the fears of growing illiteracy, more and more communication is being done through the written word. Being able to write clearly and understandably is a skill of great value in the era of the Internet. If you cannot communicate your meaning through the written word, you will have great trouble interacting online. The better a writer you are, the better you will do online.

However, many habits that made perfect sense in a world of fixed texts printed on paper do not make so much sense in a digital word where all texts are ephemeral. There is little reason to obsess over the minutiae of grammar or spelling when your message will be deleted within a few minutes. Instead, those who use social media tend to focus on speed and concision, so that the maximum amount of information can be communicated with the minimum number of characters. Worrying too much about when to use a comma will only prevent you from staying in touch with people using social media.