DOES this Digital Age make us bad writers?
I received this message over WhatsApp recently:
“is this daphne iking?
“it is then reply”
Even if I ignore the grammar, there was no introduction on his/her side, so I felt no urgency to reply.
Yesterday, I received an email:
“Hi im looking female emcee for my client event.
“Its a launching event fo collage course offer.
“Please update your availability and rate”
Not only did the email have grammatical and spelling errors, it did not have a proper introduction of the sender and it was also a mass email sent to a list of other emcees!
I have received similar correspondence in the past but I always turned a blind eye and would promptly reply, as I was afraid that by not doing so, there would be a potential loss of income.
But after rereading yesterday’s email, I started wondering – should I correct the sender?
Professional coach and trainer CJ Wilson wrote about how he assigned a three-page paper to his students and out of the 16, only two used appropriate paragraphs.
Wilson cites two books to explain this phenomenon of “disconnected, fragmented and indecipherable mumbo jumbo”.
The first is Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to our Brains.
Carr argues that the constant use of computers and smartphones is rewiring our brains in such a way that we will lose the ability to read a complete book or engage in any real deep thinking.
My nieces like to tease me when I buy my daily newspapers and books, saying: “You can save time and money by just reading it all online Aunty Pon!”.
My nieces have a point, but I notice that I only read online articles in full if it piques my interest and admittedly, I tend to skim through online headlines without reading the whole report.
The danger to this is I’m not getting the full story.
Plus, there are so many fake news stories floating about, I am a bit dubious about online news unless it is from a reputable news agency.
Another book suggested by Wilson is The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30) by Mark Bauerlein.
The statistics reveal that American youth simply do not read books (or newspapers and magazines) these days, but spend enormous amounts of time on their phones, engaged in trivial pursuits.
The social consequences of his reports have yet to be seriously considered but it points to deeply troubling times.
According to a report on website We Are Social, Malaysians spend an average of 5.1 hours a day on the Internet and 2.8 hours on social networks.
Plus, 47% of Malaysians access websites from their mobile phones.
In Wilson’s findings, the millennial generation are making claims that they are “frequent and strong writers”.
Their evidence to back this claim – “Well, they send hundreds of text and tweets every day”.
Did I L-O-L? You bet I did!
I agree with Wilson that it is absurd to claim that one is a strong writer from simply sending text messages.
It is called SMS (Short Messaging Service) or a tweet (capped at 140 characters) for a reason.
It is supposed to be short and concise.
Are their messages or tweets short? Yes.
Whether these updates are concise, however, is subjective.
I can decipher my nieces’ SMSes and social media updates though.
Here’s an example: “IDK if sum1 were 2 tell me that IMHO Id dump him n leave him 2 dry FTW! (emoticon paint nails) whatevs”
Is this going to be the new way of writing?
Will we still use paragraphs and write in full sentences with proper spelling or is that going to be obsolete soon?
Is it still necessary to write a proper essay and have a standard formal template for business writing?
After all, the world does seem to get by on texts and tweets.
Tweets by country leaders and celebrities are now deemed official press statements.
The Wall Street Journal reported that after Trump tweeted and criticised a few companies, their stock prices dropped.
Hitting closer to home, how many times have our own leaders and local personalities been criticised for their personal tweets about issues and opinions?
I strongly feel that formal writing is still very important because good writing skills will give the reader a good impression about you.
A well-written report or business letter shows credibility and professionalism.
Even though we use informal writing in our texts and online chats, we must develop the formal style of writing, as it is also a way of showing your respect to the recipient of the letter or the email.
When you write clearly, without any errors and it is well formatted, this shows that you really took the time and gave special attention to writing the letter. IMHO.
How would you react to badly written emails that lack decorum? YouTuber and emcee Daphne Iking would love to hear from you. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @daphCLPT.