Rubbi Bhogal-Wood is currently an Account Manager at Primesight and a keen commentator on media, fashion and life in general. Her latest blog is well worth a read:
Have we lost the vernacular plot?
Have we lost the art of true and pure communication? In an age where we are surrounded by (and I want to say here “glass cage of emotion”) a plethora of communication tools - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram and so on - that allow us to be liked, loved, followed, and ultimately closer to the human race than ever before, surely the question is redundant? So why is it that I feel great uncertainty and even a little irked that the linguistic quality of connections and interactions being made across the social network sphere just aren’t top grade?
Fear not this isn’t a moment where I lie down on the sofa and expect a deep analysis of my ability to connect with others. Instead I want to throw out the question and explore the view of whether or not social media and the interconnectivity it offers us is actually creating a generation who ironically is weaker at communicating than ever before.
I’m of an age where I recall life before the Internet and have also been fortunate to see it arrive, interact with it and watch it explode into a realm unlike we’ve ever experienced. So perhaps it is this straddling of two distinct worlds of communication that causes me to think about whether or not we should be worried about the emergence of a generation that is addicted to shallow communications.
How do and will our current and future generations feel about their place within the social network minefield having only experienced life within it, and not without (unless they’ve been grounded and had their laptop or mobile confiscated)? Perhaps only time will tell. But I’ve got an eerie feeling that we shouldn’t wait to find out.
Am I wearing my heart shaped sunglasses and imagining that we were happy penning letters with our quills? Hardly (I much preferred my Berol pen), but I remember when SMS was the latest phenomenon and outrage was sparked at the new text speak born out of it. But language didn’t crumble, instead we made room (albeit small) in our lexicon to house it.
However, I think the birth of SMS within the mobile arena marked a distinct line in the sand where “lazy” language somehow became acceptable amongst a certain generation. The idea of short form notification moved on with the arrival of Facebook (I’m going to make a cup of tea) and Twitter (I’m going to make a cup of tea and here’s a picture of me doing it) and as it did so, our already lethargic minds allowed some of us to fall into the doldrums of commonplace vernacular.
OK, so I’m being a little dramatic. But I can’t help feeling that those of current school age will suffer the most from this degeneration of language when it comes to self expression in the written and spoken form in the future.
What effect will it have on the advertising/communication/media sales industry in years to come? We function and depend on a certain standard of mind and skill, so perhaps I need not fear as the cream will rise to the top. Won’t it? Perhaps they’ll be more acute and finely tuned to a new and better rhetoric of communication. Won’t they?
Recent studies suggest that the dense communication world that we live in now is starting to give rise to a society that’s more lonelier, more narcissistic and consequently more susceptible to mental illness than ever before. In his article “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”, Stephen Marche states that
We live in an an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are…it is clear that social interaction matters. Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing, but both are on the rise. We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy”
Surely this sense of isolation bears a direct correlation to our methods of communication. As our connections to people grow shallower (sure, we all have a vast network of “friends” on Facebook and endless people (spammers) wanting to follow us on Twitter - but how many of those are “real”? ) so too does the skill and subject matter of conversations. Are we short circuiting our syntax?
Marche doesn’t blame Facebook or Twitter directly for the epidemic of loneliness in society but instead questions our own use of such opportunities. He rightly states that “we are doing it to ourselves”. The way in we choose to tweet, the quality of the subject matter of our posts, or the vernacular we choose to say it in, is down to us.
Twitter or Facebook don’t state that we should make our interactions using poor spelling or phrasing, or drone on about what we’re having for dinner that evening. It’s us. We’re the ones to blame. We’re the ones who have mummified our minds. And we’re the ones who need to realise that there is a time and a place to bend language and not inflict our casual attitude towards it upon society as a whole, thus trying to give it the kudos and acceptance it doesn’t deserve.
Exactly where this loose affection towards true communication is instilled, taught and debated should be argued and corrected here and now across the social networks themselves. The education system will undoubtedly play a major part in it too and the question of literacy is a hot topic amongst educators, but the main breeding ground for lax linguistic control is surely the social sphere?
However, taking a step back, should we even be pointing the finger at social networks? Is the way in which we choose to talk and chat on them simply a reflection of where we are influenced in the mainstay of society? Should we level the blame of poor communication skills at television programmes, such as BGT, X Factor, Big Brother, TOWIE and so forth? Their appeal to the lowest common denominator and who on the whole encourage plaudits for the vacuous, seem to attract a cast whose vernacular is less MENSA and more FFS.
For more from Rubbi Bhogal-Wood visit http://kasuku.tumblr.com/