Social media is everywhere nowadays. You can scarcely turn around without being bombarded by it. Whether it’s a friend sending you a message through Facebook, or a store asking you to follow them on Twitter to get the best deals, it’s likely that you’ve interacted with it at some point in your life. But this has led many people to wonder what the effects of social media on communication really are. Have social medias in English speaking countries changed the language itself? And how? Read further to know.
Lol, jk. Wyd? If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last fifteen years or so, you know a lot about the “text speak” that became popular when cell phones with texting capabilities came out. Most of us will recognize the examples used above (though some older people will check for plagiarism, if they find it in school work, assuming it to be shoddy cheating). These new acronyms aren’t just used online anymore, you can find them everywhere nowadays. Though their use is usually entirely free, the more jarring examples will likely fade and be replaced with something closer to traditional English in the future. Then teachers might know they aren’t plagiarism.
Speech Is Becoming More Concise
Very few people want to sit down and read an entire essay somebody wrote about their dinner. However, if you condense that into about 140 characters, it becomes much more enjoyable. In the age where information is continuously flying by, and everyone is sharing what they’ve done with everyone else, what you say and what you read need to be concise. Because of that, wordiness is slowly becoming a thing of the past. People are more direct in what they say now, and you can expect this trend to last.
We’re Breaking Language Barriers
English has been described best as “three languages stacked on top of each other, wearing a trench coat.” And that’s very appropriate: The English language takes from many others and adds it into our vocabulary. With social media, we’ve seen a continuation of the phenomenon. This is caused by both a wide variety of people on social media sites, speaking different languages as well as apps that make translating and understanding possible. More people can be expected to pick up phrases from other languages as the trend continues.
“Friending” wasn’t really something that existed before Facebook came about. You could become friends with someone, but that was something that usually happened over coffee, not the internet. And if you were caught Tweeting at someone, you were probably going to be examined by a medical professional. Pinning used to be a part of sewing, but can be used today to discuss your Pinterest board about how to improve yourself. Now, not only are those terms common, but they’re just a part of our vocabulary that we don’t think twice about. Even the President and the Pope send out Tweets and frequently make the news doing so.
We’re Teaching Robots
This seems almost like science fiction, and perhaps, at one time, it was. But we’re now teaching AI (Artificial Intelligence) how to parse and understand English, and we’re doing it using social media. More than one business has set up their AI on a social media platform (quite often Twitter) and let the users interact with it. The end goal here is to build an AI that can communicate effectively, making it a very important business tool. It might seem like humble beginnings, but we truly are using social media to teach English to a non-human entity for the first time, a big step in technology.
We Communicate Using Pictures
This hearkens back to the days of cuneiform and hieroglyphics, but many believe our return to communicating with images is a step forward. Whether emojis are something that bothers you or are something you love, they certainly have changed the English language. Before, “:)” might only have been a colon and a closing parentheses. Now, almost everyone in the world will see that as a smile. And these symbols get more complicated, expressing emotions and actions that weren’t easily described before, let alone in so few characters. They still haven’t worked their way into the professional language, but many expect that they will soon enough.
We are Communicating More Than Ever
While this might not seem to be a direct impact on the language itself, you can be sure that it will lead to more noticeable differences. We are in an age where you can easily communicate with thousands, even millions, of people around the world in an instant. Social media is the tool that allows that to happen. During much of human history, communication was reserved. Now, you can show and describe what you had for lunch just because you feel like doing it. This much-added communication is going to make the changes to the English language spread like wildfire.
Social media has changed a lot of things. It’s changed how we date, communicate, and even how the President addresses people. But some of the biggest changes have happened to the English language. And these are those that won’t be slowing down any time soon. The social media affect on society won’t be going away.