Facebook and the Deterioration of the English Language

Social media is fantastic. I use social media nearly every day, whether it’s blogging, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. But there’s also a downside to social media: sentence structure, spelling, and grammar fly out the window.

You don’t see it as much in LinkedIn, since it’s a professional social media site. There isn’t really enough space in Twitter’s 140-character posts to make glaring mistakes, and the Twitter feed tends to move so fast that even if you do catch a mistake, you’ll likely be distracted by something else and move along fairly quickly.

Errors in sentence structure, spelling, and grammar are common in blogging, but usually there are only going to be a couple of mistakes in a post, because the people writing blogs tend to be really into writing and therefore are a little more likely to have a firm grasp of how our language works. Where we see the real downfall is in Facebook.

Misplaced punctuation and capital letters. Misspelled words. Replacing a “to” with a “too.” Incoherent sentences. All of these are cringe-worthy incidents which seem to happen in 40%* of Facebook updates.

This is particularly horrifying considering that many of these Facebook users are adults who presumably went to high school (and often university), yet they show little regard or respect for the English language. You don’t have to be a stickler for grammar and spelling to care about this, either: every time we misuse language, we’re losing a little bit more of it. How can we expect to write an impressive resume or eloquent reports in the office if we don’t practice language correctly every day? How can we expect to communicate effectively in our relationships if we don’t know the appropriate place for a comma (which can completely change the meaning of a sentence)? How can we expect to be taken seriously if potential clients or employers see that we have no idea how to spell or form a complete sentence?

I would suggest that we all begin putting a little more effort into our social media posts. Take the extra time to read over what you wrote. If you don’t know how to use a semi-colon, either learn how to use it or don’t use it at all. We have much to gain by putting some more effort into our writing!

Do you think grammar, sentence structure, and spelling are important to use in social media? Why or why not? Share in the comments section below!

*As determined by a very unscientific study that I conducted with a sample size of the most recent 20 Facebook statuses on my wall.

1 Comment

  1. It try to use complete sentences and proper grammar even when I text, which means I text slowly.

    I understand where you are coming from and have similar feelings. However, as a Darwinian, I believe that social evolution follows biological evolution, and is going to go where it goes with little influence by us meager humans. The directionality of language is not different than the directionality of politics, religion, or the food system. That is, we’re screwed.

    That said, it is our destiny so let us accept it, embrace it, and also accept that if the changes we would like to see don’t manifest, they were never meant to be.

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