How Writing Evolved with Social Media

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The digital age has brought many changes to the way people communicate, and this is most evident in writing. It is now common for work colleagues to express themselves in emails much the same way they would if they were talking face-to-face. Each day, it is more clear that the dividing line between speech and prose is becoming more blurred. While some might see this as a negative thing, it is actually helping to push the culture forward.

Prior to the Internet age, the art of writing was left to professionals. Children were expected to write essays during their school years, but this task was often left behind after graduation. There was simply no call or need to write down thoughts and share them with others, as this was accomplished through conversation.The arrival of email started the push toward chatty writing. This was followed a few years later by the weblog, or blog. For the first time, people began to keep public journals of their personal lives and adventures while encouraging feedback from readers. There are now an estimated 200 million blogs on the web, and the number continues to grow.

Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, has increased written communication. This, along with standard text messaging on mobile phones, has become the primary way many people communicate, as it is faster and more convenient than talking in person or making a phone call. Texting is also less intrusive in places such as meetings, classrooms, restaurants, libraries and other locations where a ringing phone would be frowned upon.

While more critical types view the phenomenon as a death knell for language and reducing the levels of literacy among youth, linguists claim texting actually improves reading skills. The majority of children know there is a distinct style difference between texting and the written language used for school papers and exams.

Messages and updates shared on social media sites are usually brief, spontaneous thoughts that are easy for readers to remember. Writing in a conversational tone helps the author connect to an audience and increases the chances of understanding and empathy. In essence, social media has helped writing skills improve and evolve through becoming less formal, and more accessible, to everyone.

The purists will lament and bad writing will still be found on the web, but clearly, English is slowly changing over into a textual and informal language.

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