Friday, April 15, 2011

Words, Words, Words...

The following thoughts go a bit deeper than my typical blog posts. I am not posting this forum topic to simply argue. What I want is to see what people have to say. I probably will not comment back, as I said, I just want to hear honest thoughts. For this particular posts, "good job" and "nice text," will get you nothing. I'll only approve relevant comments in moderation for this particular post. There are lots of holes to be filled that have been in the following congruent forums posts: here, here and here. I left a lot out and did not say as much as I could have because it was late, and if I said everything that needed to be said, I would have no use for it to be open to your opinions.

So, without further ado, here is what I, admittedly hesitantly, posted on a forum just within the last hour, and I am curious what you all have to say.



Photo Source

With help of my mentor we both have made quite an observation that I would like to, not only, attribute to him, but discuss here: it consists of the words we use, and how it is all affecting our generation and generations to come. (This is a serious thought-process and discussion that I would like to have.)

On any typical news-feed--from Facebook to Twitter to even Reddit--brevity is key. When we begin speaking in mostly internet meme references and chat-speak, with ever-changing--and ever-annoying--acronyms (some of which have been privy to recently be added into the Oxford English Dictionary), we begin transforming the way we communicate to something less-akin to real communication.

When does succinct language transform from intellectual training of limits and a command of language to simply restraining us from learning more--from developing our vocabulary to breaking down our communication to that of a stereotypical caveman (or caveperson, if you are a feminist)?

There is a fine line between being internet-savvy and de-socializing ourselves. Being a computer nerd myself, it is not hard to believe that eventually most of the world would catch up to what the /b/ of 4chan and Reddit and several other sharing forums have been up to for years: sending and receiving information at a fast rate, thus creating a new form of highly intellectual and stimulating conversation passed through subliminal messages whether in the shape of .gif's, YouTube clips, or finite speech hidden amongst the script of a hacker's tongue.

The typical internet user is just beginning to affiliate themselves with some of the depths of the internet, and, without knowing any true origins of the things to which they expose themselves, they, like many poor, unfortunate souls, find themselves believing Tumblr started memes that have been around for years: "Tits or GTFO," "Forever Alone/Sad Bro," "Problem?/Trollface," "LOLOLOLOL," "Courage Wolf," and many others.

The reality is, true hacking veterans are setting aside time, still ever-evolving as they were 10-20 years ago, when many thought the internet was "a thing of the future" (as in, something to tackle sometime later), and are creating more that the public outside of these deep realms and underground forums of the internet will not discover until, like its predecessors, much later.

They were born into a generation who thirsted for knowledge. And while my generation does have its fair share of intellectuals, we are compromising more that our peers could be capable of by sitting on the computer, staring at a Tumblr feed, rather than using the internet as it began: for streaming real time-sensitive information and passing along knowledge (or even a simple YouTube clip) that could benefit audiences.

When we should be communicating in a way to further our knowledge in academia and socially--on a global and local scope--we are communicating like this:



This isn’t communication at all, in my honest opinion. It's a cheap shot at communication. It's devoid of real connection, and rather only out to make an impact, to stir up conversation that is better left to the dogs.

Students, in their 20's cannot make a logical argument in their papers for their English classes because of this lack of connection between what is communication and how to communicate it. That, and a pure lack of effort that they have gotten away with most of their public schooling careers has left them weak and more likely to flunk their first year of college. Which is saddening--the rate at which our higher education is rising has been proven statistically to be the new norm. In the future, BA's will not be as rightfully honored because of the ease found in receiving such a degree. Students will have to actually work towards getting their Master's and Doctorate degrees. On the surface, it seems as though our education is rising. Deeper, it is merely because education is easier to grasp, not because of higher intellect, but because of sinking standards.

And it all begins with communication.

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An addendum:

Loving the comments.

I said I wouldn't chime in, but I'm done advertising this post, so, you can all continue to post comments, but I'm out after this one piece.

The biggest problem one often finds when placing a thesis in places where people aren't used to spotting them, is that the audience often finds something in the article that triggers thought and conversation within them, and then they begin speaking on that, and sometimes missing the point altogether. Which is fine. It is a forum of sorts, and I intentionally left open spaces that needed to be filled (though, I would typically rather fill them myself), because I wanted to see what everyone else had to contribute. (And I hope my comment about not being able to spot a thesis is not construed as condescension. I just mean, as a blogger, I do not typically post topics of this sort, so if it threw off my audience, it is more than likely more fault than anything else.)

The thesis is this, and I thought it was clear, but some of you are a bit confused, I think, or, at least, lend your thoughts to the minor details of the post, rather than where I had intended (please excuse any rambling sentences or possible redundancy, it is late once more as I write this):


Socialization is an important factor in development. It reaches out to all facets of development on an individual level and community level--global and local. With that said, with better communicative skills, one can connect better with others.

I never intended for people to assume that I want everyone to be able to write on a scholarly level, nor do they need a strong vocabulary just to speak to one another. My point is this: people just need to talk to one another--they need to connect. That is what is lacking, and that is my thesis. A lack of connection. And the stronger a person's ability to connect with others, the easier they can adapt and learn. Communication is the stronghold of knowledge. If one cannot communicate what they have learned or what they know to others, then learning ceases. A thesis is a hypothetical argument, made in "general" terms to an audience to basically pose an idea. I do not believe all communication is lost, but most people do not seem to understand the basis of my thesis: it is just a theory. It is a theory meant to open up conversation--communication, for the sake of this post--and get people thinking. To dissect the post and merely focus on educational standards or memes or social networks that have become most popular would be taking away from the entire picture. Admittedly, this "picture" I have drawn is not as clever when written during the peak of exhaustion in the middle of the night, but it still gives way to deeper meaning.

The paragraph preceding and following the YouTube clip is the basis of my thesis and my point of this post. As I have said a few times now, it is connection between others. Obviously, randomly observed and read facts about education and its affects via a lack of communication are needed to shape the argument, but do not misunderstand the purpose.

This entry is, and still will be, about communication with others. Not the death of a language (though, many of you thought that), nor my idea that languages changing is a horrible thing. (By the way: my major would not be in English if I could not embrace the changing of tongues, nor, especially, if I thought the language was dying.) One must be able to communicate what one has learned in order to prove aptitude. English papers that fail to make an argument and simply speak in circles are a depressing case of students allowed to not take their assignments seriously in school, in previous years, and find themselves falling short to discuss an idea when made to later on as students of higher education. This may not be a universal phenomenon, it may just be regional, but, as I have said, it is all a theory--an observed, considered and communicated theory. One I have thought about before, and then was reminded of once more whilst talking with my mentor a couple of days ago in his office.

As demonstrated in the video, the couple had the perfect opportunity to turn to one another and talk things out, and they refused; instead, the couple took to sending each other immature and compromising messages. Symbolic language is only most affective when utilized in the arts, honestly, and in this case, choosing the wrong video or picture to get one’s point across always leaves open the possibility for misinterpretation. (Let’s face it—most people cannot even communicate nonverbally with one another without having to use an emoticon to make sure the receiver does not perceive the message the wrong way.) So, why not just talk to one another, instead? Sure, the video is cute, on a simple advertisement level, but what is sad is I know people who do this before they talk. I find it much stronger if a person says “sorry” or “I forgive you” or even “I love you” to my face, with all the emotion and expression words try to convey, instead of sending me a music video that says it for them. It is lazy.

(Just for a witty example: I had a friend who was dumped via Facebook by the girl changing her relationship status. She gave no warning, and did not even explain herself afterwards. So, for those wondering, yes, it does happen.)

I hope everyone understands my purpose, now, if they did not before. I apologize if I came off as condescending at any point, because I am not. This is simply my conclusion based off of the wonderful comments I have received on the issue, and you all have definitely made me think in many different ways about different aspects of this post. For that, I am very grateful.

22 comments:

  1. The younger generation is using social media to both integrate their lives with those around them on a superficial level while distancing themselves from intimate communication. So many people think that my posting their thoughts as Facebook status's or tweets they are connecting with the world but we must be aware that the level of true connection is decreasing. While these media outlets have great potential for good, it is ultimately how we choose to use them that will determine their effects.

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  2. I resisted using facebook for a long time but it was very useful for keeping in touch with my son when that was his medium of communication. This has changed as he has grown older and we now use the mobile phone - which I enjoy more. The interesting thing is that we find new ways of using both language and technology, and there is, in my opinion, no one form that can be the 'ulitmate' communcation tool. But having said that, now I have to define 'ulitmate':):)

    Olga http://revedoa@blogspot.com

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  3. There are two ways I look at this depending on if I'm feeling optimistic or cynical that day. Yes, most communication isn't as pretty to read as it was way back when. On the other hand, everyone is communicating now.

    We could debate all day as to whether tweets or facebook status updates could be considered "writing" but the fact of the matter is more people are regularly writing out sentences now than ever before. Just like more people are making their own videos than ever before. Is most of it crap? Absolutely. But, having more people getting interested in words could also lead to some really amazing things in the future. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I must be in an optimistic mood today.

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  4. Oh too true...I feel old when I'm the only one that sees the deeper meaning in poetry in english...in a class full of High School Freshman "intellectuals"...In Asia(we're hardcore genii)...

    Another thing is, I can hardly get someone to defend their faith in Bible class, they just give up...

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  5. I agree that while Facebook certainly has it's merits such as connecting people who would not have connected otherwise, it is absolutely useless for building an actual relationship. I had hoped that it would help me do that with more people, but found that even I am more than prone to laziness in this area. At any rate this is an excellent point you have made and I will make a bigger effort at using my proper english skills both on Facebook and in my e-mails. Face to face is not an issue (I have no idea what those examples you noted mean) as I actually am an excellent communicator. Anyway, thanks for bringing this to the forefront. :)

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  6. I recently did a post about community that I think is rooted in the deeper issue addressed here. It is incredibly ironic that while social media connects us in ways that are unimaginably accessible, the quality of communication is declining and we as humans are more disconnected than ever. It makes me very sad to see people who cannot formulate a coherent argument, or even hold a somewhat intelligent conversation. I do think that education needs to be rethought. It is important to put emphasis on the fact that our electronics are merely tools. That the most powerful communicator which any human possesses is not their Facebook, but their mind...

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  7. Wow! So true on so many levels. I am a teacher and have noticed my students' inability to produce any writing that reflects actual thought. They don't know how to form thoughts into paragraphs. They cannot come up with any kind of support for their arguments. And some are unaware that using the letter 'u' for the word 'you' is unacceptable in a formal essay.
    I also strongly agree with your statement that the increase in higher education has nothing to do with the actual increase in intellectual thought, but more to do with the lowering of standards. Schools have decided it is more important for students to 'feel' successful with what they have done than to actually teach them how to improve. It is both sad and scary to think about what is likely going to be the future.
    With the lack of communication, and the lack of intellectual development, it is difficult to imagine how our nation could possibly continue to thrive. If people are unwilling or unable to have deep communication, or to express their thoughts, there is a lot more than education to worry about.

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  8. I started using the internet in 1995 (wow, my age is showing!) when AOL was king, and 99% of the reason is because I had this HUGE crush on a boy who lived a state away and coincidentally happened to be a "computer geek". Instant messages were wonderful, because it saved my phone bills but didn't limit the amount of time/characters/etc. we could use chatting away about anything and everything. Sometimes I think that 14-year-old me was smarter than 29-year-old me, but I digress. Point is, the internet felt open and liberating. So, fast forward almost 16 years, and now I see what's happening, the same as you do. I just had to write a paper for my hubby (the "cool guy, not "the computer geek", which might explain why the nerdy wife was doing the paper and not him), and he was like, "take this out, erase that, etc.", and when I ask him why, he basically tells me that I don't need all that fluff -- just make the point and get out. If there's one thing I hate, it's being limited to 500 words or actually, just being limited at all, but I think, as much as I love him, that his mindset is part of this societal 140-characters-or-less programming. I truly miss the days when people went around the world to clarify an idea instead of just keeping it in their own backyard. The very thing which liberated us and welcomed us into the information age is trying to shove us back into a box, and I don't like it one bit. I do my computer work in the morning, and then I go outside the rest of the day, because I'm tired of living in snippets behind a screen. And on that note, I'll catch ya later. ;-)

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  9. I completley agree. I loathe getting a text message or email from a professional with misspelled, tossed together acronyms that can easily be misinterpreted. If we, as professionals (I work in a public school) send these quick bursts messages to quickly pass along information, we are just as much part of an ever evolving problem. For the record, (FTR) I don't abbreviate or use acronyns frequently in text, as I do think it dumbs down our level of communication. If I'm typing a quick response on a message board, I might use some acronyms or nicknames, or abbreviation of some kind, but I'm still first drawn to typing it out. It's not much faster for me to type DS(Dear Son)than it is to type my son's 5 letter name.

    So I guess, I totally agree. What can we do about it?

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  10. I agree with communication suffering but not in the same sense as you. I think the personal connect between two people will disappear and be replaced more and more by virtual connections.

    Virtual relationships will have more importance than face to face connections.

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  11. this, is very good it reminds me of a book I read about Texting (yeah I read it :P) it explained that texting actually gave kids more time be using language but you do give very strong points... in my opinion (as said earlier) it is about how we use communicative technology
    check out my blog
    www.lifeinthethirdperson.blogspot.com
    awesome your blog is!

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  12. That video is such a sad sight to see, but so true! I cringe when I see families out to eat and the kid, or kids, are all on their cellphones texting. Can't we just have normal interactions anymore? I'll be on the computer, and my Dad will say "Let's be the 21st century family!" and bring down his computer. It's a joke to us, but is being taken to a whole different level in society. It's becoming reality. I think professors are dumbing down their expectations of students, especially in writing. They accept certain faux paus because of internet speak, and this is a disservice to themselves, students, and society as a whole. You're right, BA's are becoming a dime a dozen. No big deal, because I feel kids don't have to work very hard for them anymore, and yes, it all comes back to communication.

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  13. My opinions on this text vary quite a bit. First of all; Yes, the way people communicate is changing. Is it negative or positive? I don't think it is either. We are evolving, and evolving is a natural phenomenon without which we disappear. Sure, the change may be happening a little fast for our taste and the adaptation to this new form of language may be a little to radical for some. However, this is life. If you look back to Elizabethan age, where Shakespeare wrote wonderful plays and where sonnets were used as a form of communication, you realize how much communication has changed from then to now. Can you imagine talking with your friends in Shakespeare's tongue? The answer is probably no and in a couple of centuries and perhaps even decades, people will look back and say: "Wow! What kind of a language was that?" It is the evolution of our idiom that is today following it curse. Let not stop the evolution by fear of the unknown. Don't stop the development of our society.

    Now, secondly: I totally agree how you say that standards in education are diminishing. Somebody told me once that the schooling system was based on the need to make students pass. Whether, they have the capacity to pass or not, it doesn't matter, the standards will be lowered. However, I don't think this is based on the ever-changing ways of communicating. It is a problem due to the line of thought "Nobody will be diminished for their capacities. Everybody is equal." Result? It becomes discriminating to fail a student. Teachers are no longer allowed to give an R to somebody who had less than 50 on an exam. What happens then is that the teaching and learning standards are lowered in order to give a chance to the "not so bright" student to pass the course. Diminishing.

    I'm sorry for this loong comment...

    http://strandedmind.blogspot.com/

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  14. @ Bathwater:
    Doesn't it seem sad that face-to-face relationships are being replaced by virtual communication. When we are told that over 90% of communication is determined by nonverbal cues, it seems that virtual communication will lend itself to a multitude of misunderstandings. How often do we send text messages that are completely sincere and they are read as sarcasm, or the other way around. I'm not saying that virtual communication is a bad thing. Something that connects so many people is quite advantageous. However, if it is used exclusively, replacing face-to-face relationships, it seems we will be missing out on a lot. Deep connections are difficult when communication is limited to to characters on a screen. Impossible, really.

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  15. Jennifer, you chose a topic close to my heart! I have become increasingly frustrated with the bastardization of our language in recent decades. I love the American language because it is precise when used correctly. There is no need to guess at meaning when one uses the proper words to describe a thing. I use much of the new text language and other popular abbreviations when I text, tweet or post to Facebook, but when it is time to write something more substantial, I turn to my language skills. I am a full-time online student, author a blog, and write for several websites. I am often disgusted by the degradation of language and the inability of "educated" people to communicate effectively.

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  16. I recently went through some standardized testing at school called HSAP. It is what every high school student has to pass in order to get a diploma. Our writing prompt for the essay section of the test was for us to pick what we though was the most important method of communication and explain why. I picked, the telephone, because is this day and age it is now the only way to still truly connect when communicating with others. Computers with Facebook and Twitter and the likes are all well and good, but they do not allow us to connect with others on that emotional level that we as humans so desperately crave. Communication isn't just about relaying information, its about making an emotional and mental connection with someone else. Sharing knowledge (even if it is common) isn't something that should be taken lightly. Sorry for the long comment. But as a member of the much younger generation I had to get a few words out there (: we aren't all incompetent! I swear!

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  17. As a collegiate debater I find that this is a huge issue, the issue of communication that is. When we see individuals using these abbreviations in their everyday vernacular it impedes communication and sets you apart from the rest of society that is able to effectively communicate. Many people may see these abbreviations as better, correct or helpful, but when we look at the big picture we see that they only work in conversation online, with other individuals who understand what all of the abbreviations being used mean. And at that there is a lot of the communication lost via individual interpretation and the true meaning of a statement or argument is completely lost. What it boils down to is that whereas this type of communication is acceptable online, it's not acceptable anywhere else, and will not help you anywhere else. That is why we all must be capable, effective communicators. If you cannot do so society will simply leave you behind.

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  18. I agree, the use of proper grammar has depleted among youth and sadly even some adults. The use of 'slang' seems so shall I say second nature to so many, its very frustrating I find that sometimes I can't even understand some of the things people say. And while yes I do have a Facebook account I feel the purpose is for keeping in touch with those you are close to that sadly you may not be able to see as often as you would like to i.e family, friends.

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  19. i think social networking has it's place in communication. It only becomes a problem when all other forms of communication and 'art' are removed from the equation.
    Social networking is one outlet whre people get to give of themselves as opposed to being told what to think and do through other forms of media from tv, to magazines. So it isnt all bad.

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  20. I agree that the evolution (or should I say, "de-evolution") of language has its affect on proper and meaningful communication, and on society in general, but language has been evolving/de-evolving for years and many of us, from one generation to the next, have had to witness the inclusion of slang words and pop acronyms into the dictionary; on the other hand, we've also gotten to witness the growth of contemporary writing--something that I believe has gotten simpler and cleaner, but more breathtaking.
    While such chat-speak may appear to lower the IQ of our society, particularly that of today's college students, I think one must separate that singular aspect of communication before judging all other aspects related to it. For instance, while chat-speakers may appear to lack the ability to use proper English, to effectively convey emotion through words, or to even survive a college curriculum well enough to deserve a degree, the reality is this: some may lack the aforesaid abilities, but many still manage to use chat-speak only when it's appropriate, allowing them to speak properly and coherently at other times and even work harder than yesterday's college students to meet the higher standard's of today's college requirements. (Trust me, my university was way easier to get into when I was 18...unlike today, where strong students are actually being declined admission.)
    With all of that said, I believe that the level at which you speak is dependent on how much (and on what) you read. Literature breeds literary voices, and so forth...but communicating in one way doesn't determine one's the level of communication.
    This is a good discussion topic :)

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  21. I understand much more what you were saying, now that you've updated your post... And I agree with you. Proper communication is essential for a society's development.

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  22. I agree with everything you are saying 100%! It is one of my biggest issues with our generation, and I feel so helpless as to how to fix it. One of the things I have done, however, is get rid if Facebook and cut down on my texting. I've got to tell you, it's made a big difference in the way that I communicate with the people that I really care about, and the way that they communicate in return. I'm so glad to know that there are other young people out there who are bothered by our generation's deficits in communication skills.

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