As the technology advanced, people have changed the way of how they write. Haimran Julka, an article writer of The Economic Times mentions that there are about 245 million of Internet users in US. The number of Internet users is growing at an extraordinary pace. It can somewhat show how much the people like to write on the social media. The new generation is given much more opportunities than the old generation to write by social media. The social media provides an open platform to all people. We can broadcast our views to the world, potentially reaching millions of readers. As long as we are able to connect to the Internet, we are able to write on the social media at anytime and anywhere. Although the social media benefits us in some ways, we should concern to how the social media harms our ability on writing. Because of the everyday usage of social media, the social media has changed our writing style unknowingly. People start to adapt to the short writing style which is created by the social media and the new generation is writing much more words than the old generation.
Since we are used to write short sentences on the social media, we change the way of formulate or express our thoughts. We have started to ignore what the basic requirements of writing a formal essay is. As time goes by, our ability of writing long and organized essays has been weakened.
The first reminder is what the basic requirements of writing a formal essay are. Complete sentences, correct spelling, well organized and proper grammar should be the necessities. However, none of the above we can learn from writing on the social media. It is common that people would never write complex sentences on social media such as on Facebook status and on article comment. We never try to write a hundred words sharing on our opinions and feelings because no one is going to read that. Everyone prefers looking something short and easy to understand on the screen of technology; no one is going to concern about the spelling or grammar. If I feel sad today, probably I am going to write “Bad Day” or just put a crying face on my Facebook status. After few minutes, my friends will start to “like” my status. So, I never need to write a well-organized paragraph to explain what has happened, which makes me sad because no one actually cares.
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It is not surprising that the short writing style which is created by the social media can be discovered in many other places. When we are reading news on The Wall Street Journal, there are many different short issue summaries and articles for us to read. Once we finish reading an article, we can click the comments button to view the other readers’ comments and know how they think about the issue. The comments are usually short and not in complete sentences or sometimes even in point form. It cannot be denied that the short articles and comments can reduce our reading time and we can obtain the largest amount of information we need in the shortest time. However, we may feel difficult to elaborate our points or thoughts and write long essays since we are used to this kind of short writing style. Here is another example of short writing style on the social media. According to the “New Media Writing,” it says “college students are fairly accustomed to the course blog, where they are expected to summarize responses to require readings, link to related articles, and comment on other students’ course blogs.” It shows that we like to read and write summaries on the social media. Our time can greatly be saved because of the short writing style. On the other hand, our sense of writing long and organized essays is weakened unknowingly.
Besides on website article, we also can find another good example of short writing style on the social media. Text messages often have limitation on the number of characters, so shortcuts are commonly used. Some educators think that the shortcuts damage the students’ ability of writing English. Jacquie Ream writes this on his book to support the educators: “The kids aren’t learning to spell. They’re learning acronyms and shorthand. Text messaging is destroying the written word. Students aren’t writing letters; they’re typing into their cell phones one line at a time. Feelings aren’t communicated with words when you’re texting; emotions are sideways smiley faces. Kids are typing shorthand jargon that isn’t even a complete thought” (8).
Everything we use on the social media is short: short forms, short summaries, short sentences and short opinions. We have greatly advanced in the technology of the internet and the technology helps us to save our time. Most of the information appears on the social media is short and it helps us to achieve the goal of time saving. The short writings on the social media help us to share information in a faster way. However, there is always give and take: we are now able to obtain faster communication and the information we want from the social media as soon as possible, on the other hand we are giving up our ability of writing long essays.
Besides the short writing style, the massive amount of words which we have written on the social media also harms our writing skill.
I find a saying which is mentioned in the “Studies Explore Whether the Internet Makes Students Better Writers” very impressive to me, “why is it that with young people reading and writing more words than ever before in human history, we find no gains in reading and writing scores?” (Keller). Here comes a question: we are writing far more words than the old generation, however, is our writing improving at the same time?
Why do people write so much on the social media? Josh Keller has suggested a reason for that, since we have to communicate with others on the social media, it forces us to write more and more on the social media. Since the explosion of social networking service, our daily life has been connected to the Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and the other social media. On condition that there is accessible Wi-Fi, we can write every minute and every moment. There is free Wi-Fi everywhere now. No matter we are having our lunch at McDonald or we are doing window shopping in a mall, we can write on the social media with our smart phones. Besides the easy connection to the Internet, we like to write on the social media because there are no restrictions like sentence structure, spelling and grammar on the social media. In the past, once the people had graduated, they would not like to write unless their jobs demanded them to write (Thompson). We can discover an obvious change on our writing attitude. We are writing a lot of things on the social media but none of them is formal writing. Keep writing informal writings all the time cannot help us to produce a better official writing. The sharing we post on our Facebook or Blogs may look fine in our peers’ eyes but our professor may have no idea what we are talking about.
The technology does a great effort on making writing easier by providing software to detect spelling and grammatical error. The technology brings us many conveniences but it also distracts our attention on the usage of words. We do not have to worry about the spelling because of the great invention of the spelling checker. The spelling checker helps us to correct our spelling by providing us similar vocabularies. We may find out that spelling has become a piece of cake. However, have you ever chosen the wrong word for your essay? Here is an example from “Does Digital Media Makes Us Bad Writers?”,” ‘I feel so necrotic,’ writes a college student. Well maybe he does have a bad case of dead tissue. What’s more likely is that he means “neurotic,” but his spelling checker insists on necrotic, so what’s a student to do?” (Karp). Suppose you are now in a similar situation, are you going to trust your spelling checker or are you going to believe in yourself? Choosing the wrong words has become a common writing mistake nowadays. A grammar checker functions in a similar manner. We are depending on too much on the technology and it weakens our awareness of word usage. From my point of view, this is why we are writing massive amount of words on the social media but our writing is not improving at the same time.
Our writing quality cannot be improved by writing more words on the social media. Josh Keller mentions the condition when we are writing to our friends on the social media in his article, “you’re writing to other 17-year-old, so your vocabulary is going to be the conventional vocabulary of the 17-year-old idiom”. We are using the same vocabulary to communicate with our friends on the social media every day, how can we practice our writing if we write just for fun but not for learning new items? Sometimes we may make mistake on our sentence structure, spelling or grammar when we are writing to our friends on the social media. However, our friends are not going to correct us. We will keep making the mistakes and it does not help us to improve our writing skill.
According to “Bad Student Writing? Not so Fast!”, some people may argue that the new generation has developed a new style to share their feelings clearly on the social media while the old generation is still worrying the quality of the new generation (Fendrich). From my point of view, our writing quality has become worse because we are using the short writing style and writing too much on the social media. It’s true that the social media provides us a greater opportunity to write: Facebook, simply blogging or e-mail. Also the technology makes the writing process much easier. We can now ignore the spelling and the usage of grammar with the help of the spelling checker and the grammar checker. However, the social media contributes no benefits on our writing skill but weakens our ability of writing long formal writings and word usage.
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We may think that it doesn’t matter to have bad writing skill. As long as we are not going to become a writer, everything will be good. The fact is that bad writing skill can affect our job opportunity and job performance. It is because good writing skill can build up a good first impression to the hiring managers, show our communication skill and enhance our credibility.
How do the hiring managers give the first impressions to the job seekers? The managers obtain the first impressions by reading the job seekers’ application letters. Our ability to write complete sentences, spell correct words, and use the proper grammar plays an important role in building our personal brand. We can build up a good image to our potential employers if we have strong writing skill. Imagine you are now a job seeker. If you receive an e-mail which asks you to attend a job interview, are you going to answer the e-mail in this way #1: “Dear Ms. Simko: Thank you for contacting me. Friday at 2:30 P.M. will work well for me. I appreciate your interest in me as a candidate and I look forward to meeting you on Friday! Best Regards, Bob” or in this way #2: “Sounds great! See you then” (Simko). The short writing style #2 is always not suitable for communicating with someone professionally.
Besides affecting our image, our writing skill can also reflect our communication skill. In “Why Writing Matters”, it shows the relationship between our writing skill and communication skill:
Good students must be able to understand and then synthesize the information from a variety of sources, both primary and secondary. Once they synthesize information, they must spread it to others effectively. With new forms of communication in our changing society, we must adapt. Web pages, e-mail and text messaging now exist alongside traditional forms of communication such as print journalism and books. It becomes more important to learn good writing skills in order to compose effective web pages, cover letters and even e-mails. These new forms of communication require foundational skills in writing (Thomas).
Writing is one of the main ways we communicate with each other at work. Businesses produce many documents: contracts, proposals, and employee handbooks. We have to make sure every party understands the same thing. The construction of the sentences, the choice of the vocabulary, and the usage of grammar that we made help us to clarify the documents. If our documents are well written, we can prevent misunderstanding among different parties and our working performance can be improved.
Good writing skill can enhance our credibility. Customer confidence is a key factor of getting success. We all want our customers to think that we are credible. In order to gain our customers’ trust, we have to show that we are willing to communicate with them with good writing quality. Although good writing doesn’t increase the reliability of our products or services, it shows that we are making efforts to communicate with our customers (Rose). Judy Rose, in her article, says, “when letters and documents are thoughtfully written and well executed, they say several things about your company: (1) we strive toward excellence in all things; (2) we know what we’re talking about; (3) you can be confident in our abilities. If you can make that kind of an impression on the people you do business with, you’ve done your company a valuable service”. It shows clearly how good writing skill works on businesses.
Bad writing skill does not only damage our academic score but also damage our future job opportunity and performance.
People always think of the positive side of the social media. As what I have mentioned in this paper, it is no doubt that the social media benefits us in some ways. The social media provides an open platform to everyone, people can write as much as they want at anytime and anywhere. However we should pay really close attention to how the new media harms our ability on writing. As a business student, I really care about how my writing skill may affect my future career. I thought bad writing skill might only harm my academic score. I was totally wrong. While I was doing my researches, I realized how important the writing skill was. My writing skill doesn’t only affect the score of my English classes. It also reflects my image, communication skill and credibility and it can make negative impacts on my future career. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t write on the social media anymore. While we are writing on the social media, we should also keep an eye on how the social media affects our writing skill. We should not allow the social media makes us become unskilled writers and harms our future life.
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