I was asked the question posed in the title of this blog and was somewhat puzzled as to why one might think that communications restricted to 140 characters would somehow cause us to cease to be able to write serious communications. I then encountered the link associated with the title of this blog wherein it is said
Those that say that text-writing is not ruining communication are not living in the real world. I have heard from many freshman writing professors at colleges who complain about their student's writing. Why hasn't this been addressed before they reached that point? Why isn't anyone telling kids that it is not acceptable to write the same way for an academic paper as it is to write to your friend.Of course, it is inappropriate to employ the same writing style in a term paper or exam as one uses in a sms or twitter message. But the problem is not that writing sms and twitter messages is harmful per se. The problem is that teachers are insufficiently stressing the importance of using formal language in writing test answers, essays, job applications, and anything else meant for adults, including especially people one needs to impress.
I think many adults who are being dragged into the world of electronic, non-voice communication find these highly abbreiated messages somehow offensive in and of themselves. The writer of hte previsiously quoted passage goes on to say
Personally, when my teenage daughter leaves me notes on the table expressing that she will "C U L8R," I cringe. I actually circle the inappropriate language and leave her a note telling her that I expect a better note than that.This is some ugly stuff, no doubt but it is easy to figure the meaning out. But if the mother thought that this was too abbreviated, I wonder what she would make of a famous telegraphic exchange between Oscar Wilde and his publisher. The former sent the message "?" and the publisher replied "!". Each knew what the other was saying -- "How is the book coming along?" and "It is coming along well."
I agree that the very ugly abbreviations one finds in twitter messages and text messages can be quite off-putting to novices (such as myself). But they are, after all, abbreviations for words, not substitutes for them. They are no different from the messages doctors write on prescriptions such as "b.i.d." or "a.u." or "cc." I think we ought to be a great deal less happy with this sort of communication than the abbreviated texts of sms and twitter messages. The unfortunate thing about this is that if we could understand exactly what doctors are writing on our scripts, then we could catch any errors the pharmacies or, for that matter, the doctors make.
There is a positive side to the writing of sms and twitter messages. Anyone attempting to obey the 140 character limit (rather than simply sending one sms message right after another) will inevitably learn to craft succinct messages. This is a good thing. All writing is improved by developing succinctness in expressing oneself. And writing is improved simply by writing itself and what we are seeing from our children is vastly more writing being done now than in several generations.