January 31st, 2010
The free-form writing style of social networks like Twitter and Facebook is changing the way people communicate, and causing students to fail English. That’s the claim of a piece out this afternoon from the Canadian Press. According to the article “(at) Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, one in 10 new students are not qualified to take the mandatory writing courses required for graduation.” And academicians are, in part, blaming social networking.
I was interviewed for this, and I share the view that students who let social network style, like SMS (text) abbreviations, such as L8R, and emoticons (like smiley faces) slip into their more formal communications, run the risk of being viewed as poor communicators by very influential people, such as potential employers and graduate school review boards. These things:
“say to me … ‘well, this person doesn’t think very clearly, and they’re not very good at analyzing complex subjects, and they’re not very good at expressing themselves, or … they can’t spell, and they can’t punctuate,’ These folks are going to short-change themselves, and right or wrong, they’re looked down upon in traditional corporations.”
So have fun when you’re online, but remember, almost everything you “say” and do is visible to the entire world, including people who can make a difference in helping you achieve your objectives. And even if the social media gurus tell you the old rules have been thrown out, and communications has gone informal, and you should be yourself, someone apparently forgot to send that memo to our universities and corporations.