How Sites Like Facebook Have Changed Our Writing Skills

Writing Skills

“Gf u r my BF4L!” Phrases like this populate our e-waves and give many critics reason to believe that this generation’s writing skills are diminishing. In this day and age, we have numerous opportunities for creative writing. The most popular by far is the use of the Internet. On the Internet, an individual can chat in a chat room, instant message an old friend, email a funny story, and even blog about the day’s events. However, are all these new writing outlooks improving this generation’s writing or is the prominent use of slang making it worse? This all depends on the person, what she is doing on the internet, and how she communicates with others. Although, most critics argue that writing on the internet does not improve writing skills, writing on the Internet can have both a positive and negative effect.

Anyone can improve her writing simply by practicing. A healthy way to practice writing is by jotting down short stories, daily events, or just simple conversations in a notebook. Blogging is just like writing in a notebook, a collection of a person’s thoughts and ideas, except it is done electronically on the Internet. At first, a blog can start off as boring, mundane, everyday life stories, but as the writer becomes comfortable writing, the entries become more personal. A blog doesn’t exist to keep “an actual factual record” (Didion 81) of instances in someone’s life but rather her personal thoughts and feelings. More times than not, a blog entry is a reoccurring thought rolling around and around in the writer’s mind. The blog allows the writer to express herself and share her thoughts with others. Entries are written with “the power of language” to “evoke an emotion” (Tan 402) or to express an idea. In doing so, they provide food for thought for their readers, and the readers can either respond to the blog or add their own sarcasm, praise, or criticism. Each of these practices, the entries and the responses, improve creative writing through repetition and practice.

Despite the writing opportunities chat rooms and Facebook provide on the Internet, they are not healthy ways for practicing writing skills. Facebook is a social network made purely for entertainment and connecting with friends. Informal writing dominates this website. The opportunities for writing include commenting on one another’s thoughts, pictures, or actions. Most comments on Facebook do not require intellectual thought but are simply statements shared between people. Posts exist as one-liners to convey approval, hilarity, or disdain. Chat rooms function in the same fashion. Like a phone call, a chat room facilitates communication between two or more people. However, instead of speaking and listening, typing and reading skills are used. The conversations held in chat rooms are not discussions; on the contrary, they are everyday, pointless exchanges discussing what the weather will do tomorrow, who Drew is dating, and how Jessica embarrassed herself in front of the whole school that morning. On most occasions, the conversations taking place in chat rooms or on Facebook are not expressed in complete thoughts or sentences; rather they convey a “secret language” (Anzaldua 24). A variation of slang and abbreviations, created for the sole purpose of fast communication, produces this cryptic vernacular and reduces words to mere symbols or acronyms. Consequently, one could argue that a writer will not benefit from writing in code.

Obviously, different influences on the Internet determine whether a writer improves her skills or not. If the writer only uses the Internet as a stage for stand up comedy, the one-liners, the sarcastic phrases, and the abbreviated sentences will not enhance writing. Fast responses used in basic conversations like those seen in chat rooms and on social network sites, such as Facebook, do not promote exemplary writing skills. Yet, they do contribute to an abundant use of slang. On the other hand, if the writer treats the Internet like a pseudo publisher, one can argue that writing skills will improve. Blogging develops idealistic writing skills because entries are formally written and convey a significant purpose. To be sure, writing well is no reason to l.o.l. (laugh our loud) and should not be reduced to a minimal number of symbols. Instead writing speaks our ideas, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs and should be expressed to its full account.

Works Cited

Anzaldua, Gloria. How to Tame a Wild Tounge. 50 Essays. Boston: Beford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 22-34. Print.

Didion, Joan. On Keeping a Notebook. 50 Essays. Boston: Beford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 79-86. Print.

Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue.” 50 Essays. Boston: Beford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 79-86. Print.