Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Writer’s Exploration: Saving the English Language from Digital Laziness


I doubt any English speaking people today would argue the idea that digital media – namely social media and texting – has given rise to laziness in using the English language. When I’m not out fighting the world on acronyms and jargon – well, not exactly fighting the world – I am a proponent of using our language properly. And no, I don’t mean stuffy prim and proper aristocratic dialogue, which you will not find in my writing, I mean knowing the basic rules of grammar and punctuation.

It’s not hard, really, we learn those rules in elementary school and perfect them throughout our educations and beyond. Yet, in the advent of immediate access to sending and receiving information, there seems to be a culture based around rushing to the point by any means necessary, even if it means sacrificing a period here or a comma there. Before long, whole words are missing while others are severely bastardized. The beautiful language of Dickens, Woolf, and Hemingway is suddenly a pale and decaying reflection of its former self degrading incrementally through every generation of retweets and copy and pasted status updates. Single letters and numerals come to represent words and twenty question marks follow an incomplete sentence because the author really wants you to know that the question is a question, a strong and inquisitive one at that.

I know this single blog post or anything else I say or do will not fix this overnight – or ever. Realistically, it will grow worse before a generational backlash led by future kids thinks good grammar is cool again. Was it ever cool? However, I will walk the talk (another tired cliché) by spreading the [emotion of your choice] of communicating well with others because the words and marks mean what they say and say what they mean. Imagine reading 140 characters and understanding exactly what the author intended with no ambiguity. I see no harm in that.

We have all heard some statement such as how much energy would be saved if everyone would shut off a light bulb an extra hour a day. How many tweets and status updates would be salvaged from the oblivion of apathy if everyone took an extra five seconds to correct their language? We just might begin to truly communicate again.