Not that this is Earth shattering news but we are getting stupider as a culture and as a people. I am firmly convinced that as great as technology is, it has made human beings lazy and stupid when it thinks it’s making us smarter. I fear for the younger generations who will only know social media and texting stuff like it has been around forever. I fear that I will soon forget how to write properly: meaning using full sentences with actual words, not abbreviations, acronyms and emoticons. However, it seems that abbreviations and acronyms are fast becoming actual words. The Oxford English Dictionary added OMG, FYI and LOL to the dictionary this year. This makes me sick to my stomach. What’s worse? I find myself doing all of these things I hate and it makes me want to scream sometimes.
The other night I was out with some friends ranging in age from 27-36 and we were talking about technology, texting and social media, etc. Each one of us is on Facebook, in fact I have two Facebook pages, one public and one private. Half of us were on Twitter including me technically, even though I have never actually been on the site and don’t know my password because I didn’t set it up myself. But the point is we are all a part of the massive machine.
We all text. We all use emoticons. In fact, most people can have a whole conversation with only emoticons, which again makes me sick. In fact, I have a friend who gets pissed because when she sends me emoticons from her Iphone to my blackberry they don’t come out right. One of my good buddies the other night said he almost didn’t know what to do because I actually called him. He said he was in shock, it’s as if we have forgotten how to speak to friends on the phone. That would imply using full sentences and asking questions and giving real answers. No winking emoticons, no kissy faces, no angry guy or talk to the hand guy. No dancing dude, no huggy person, no beer mug, no thumbs up and down; actual speaking! It was amazing to actually talk about how we have deteriorated as people.
Again I am as guilty as anyone. I love to use Facebook, I love to text and I love my blackberry messenger and it kills me. I was the last of my friends to get on Facebook and get a texting phone and as much as it pains me to say it, I love it. It’s great. Why you ask? Because you don’t have to talk to anybody. There doesn’t need to be long catch up conversations because you know exactly what they are doing each day because many people post their status updates. If not of Facebook, then on Gchat (Google chat), BBM (blackberry messenger), AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), Twitter, Four Square and I am sure 50 other possibilities.
In the old days, if you wanted to know what an old friend from high school or college is up to, you set aside some time and go over the past 6-12 months or whatever it’d been since you last spoke or saw each other. Now that never happens. I can’t even tell you the last time I voluntarily had a conversation on the phone socially for longer than 3 minutes unless you’re driving for a while and are bored. If you do call, it’s almost because it’s too annoying to text and you have a very succinct thing you want to convey such as plans for the night or something.
But back to grammar and English. I don’t know many kids who are in grade school, well actually I know two and don’t see them often so my question or observation is…do kids these days know how to actually write and speak proper English anymore? I wonder what their English papers in school look like. I bet they are filled with shorthand, abbreviations and acronyms. Many I am sure are corrected with spell check or grammar check but what if they had to write a paper by hand…I wonder if they could-even high school kids because they’ve probably had cell phones and the Internet for as long as they can remember.
Another thing that drives me completely insane is when people do text or whatever and write LOL. That may be my biggest pet peeve of all time, even more than people who don’t close the toothpaste tube and the toothpaste then gathers at the top and gets all gross…this is why I live alone! However, when one does laugh, even if it is out loud as the acronym says, you don’t say LOLOLOLOL, you say HAHAHAHA so why not write HAHA!? It’s a very simple thing and even correct as the sound goes at least for now before we get de-generated as a race to laughing the sound LOLOLOLOL.
Switching gears…as empowering as social media is because everything is so raw and instant, it is also quite sad and dangerous. First, how many of us get all of our news from Facebook or Twitter. Earlier yesterday, I found out that Casey Anthony beat the rap for murder from Facebook from my blackberry and this certainly wasn’t the first time. Then everyone, including me, gives their opinions and it just shows how powerful a tool it is.
On the flip side, it gives people too much access and too much curiosity and temptation. Twitter, which I’ve never been on, seems to be the platform of choice for actors and athletes to voice their valued (or not) opinions and it is a loaded weapon. Especially for athletes who have gotten fined and kicked off teams because of the inappropriate things they Tweet. Facebook on the other hand has been linked to something like 30% of all divorces in the past few years and surely leads to many more breakups including several people I know.
Not the main reason for the break up, but one of the biggest bones of contention between my last girlfriend and myself was that I didn’t want to put “In a relationship” and she did on my Facebook profile. I find this to be annoying, unnecessary, juvenile and frankly I just didn’t ever think about it. She didn’t see it that way and harassed me about it constantly. The other thing is if/when you break up with the person and change it back to single or take it off totally, it shows in your newsfeed and then everyone comments on your break up. Who the hell needs that?! So why bother, it’s a loaded weapon so just leave relationship status empty unless you’re married and maybe even then!
Not just the relationship thing but Facebook in general. How many times do you get tagged in a picture or something you don’t want to be tagged in and get annoyed and quickly try to de-tag yourself but if you don’t check often enough then everyone else will see it or some variation of something like that. This is why my personal Facebook is all private and my fan page is administered closely. Then again how confusing and annoying are the Facebook privacy settings…
I know two people from high school who had dated in high school like 15 years ago and became Facebook friends. They were both married with kids and had used Facebook to message each other back and forth. Eventually they agreed to meet at some hotel and have an affair and one of the spouses happened to use the computer one day when they left their Facebook messages open and read them all. Needless to say, they weren’t too happy and I guess got in touch with the other spouse. Bottom line is both got divorced and apparently there is some custody battles going on etc. This is a common thing from what you hear and read and again, it’s a loaded weapon and leads to much temptation and too much access. Who needs that crap?!
Anyway, it’s sad but I feel that social media is going to honestly take over the world if it hasn’t done so already. For God’s sake, they say Facebook could have a $Trillion valuation if it went public! I can’t even imagine what it will be like in 20-30 years. I am sure something else will come out before then but between email, texting, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and LinkedIn (For my friend Cara who works there), the “stupification” and digitization of the world will continue.
Pretty soon, everything in our world is going to be dictated by 140 characters (or whatever the limit is) or less. Teachers will Tweet homework to kids in acronyms who will then just copy and paste from the Internet anyway. Do kids still have to do book reports? Do kids ever even read? (I used to have to read a book a week when I was a kid or I couldn’t go out and play which is another thing I feel like kids don’t do because of video games etc.) You can get a summary of any book ever written on the Internet! Christ, when I was in Business School, half the people copied their papers and projects from Wikipedia or something like that and just changed some words if they felt like bothering! Anyway, only time will tell but I think we should all make an effort to verbally communicate with others because it is sadly becoming a lost art.