Jarter Jargon

Is Social Media Affecting Literacy?

Posted on: March 5, 2013

After reading an op-ed on Mashable about the potential effect social media is having on the world’s literacy rates, it really had me thinking.

Some say that social media is killing this generation’s ability to express clear and concise thoughts. Facebook and Twitter are rife with grammatical errors, and it still baffles me that people my age don’t know the difference between “You’re” and “Your.”

While studies suggest people are reading less, I find that hard to believe. People everyday, although on their smartphones or tablets, are reading and taking in massive amounts of information all the time. Take a second to look around in the grocery store, on the bus, even the ever-dangerous texting while walking. People are on their devices looking at the news, Facebook, Twitter, and so many other sources of information for just that: information. It has become so prevalent that it can now actually be difficult to get out of the habit of being locked on to our devices.

We live in a day and age where people have become accustomed to social interaction online. People have even come up with online etiquette! It’s here, and it’s here to stay. People look for that daily engagement whether it comes from brands they love or friends they love to talk to. Admit it, we all love getting Facebook notifications or Twitter mentions and retweets. We love when people like our photos on Instagram. We love sharing things via these channels.

Hofstra University Assistant Professor of Writing Studies and Composition Ethna Dempsey Lay, who co-edited the essay collection Who Speaks for Writing: Stewardship in Writing Studies in the Twenty-First Centuryargues that what we are witnessing is a “sequel to literacy” meaning that we are finding new ways to communicate through the channels we are now faced with. However, on the other hand, she also brings to our attention that these social channels allow us to post immediately which has had an adverse effect on our ability to proofread and can also lead to the complete omission of revising.

As social media expands, new ways of communicating are being discovered every day. And while social interaction is at an all-time high, there are some cracks starting to show.

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