After the sensational press release of a 19-year-old writing about the family business failed to quite capture the imagination of the masses, the chiefs at Hippychick decided to have a second bite at the cherry, and have given me another space to regurgitate my thoughts. However, due to the minimal interest there was (admittedly very fairly) in my personal opinions, I have now been limited to the far more interesting topic of ‘Is grammar dead to your generation or not, especially in terms of social media etc.’. It seems what was apparently a one-off narcissistic and menial task, has morphed into something slightly more continuous through no fault of my own.
Nevertheless, that said, if there ever was a time for me to write on grammar it probably is now – having just endured 2 hours of a seminar purely focused on punctuation and editing. However, to my ultimate shame I still don’t know the difference between a dash or a hyphen, and as my recent essay feedback so helpfully stated ‘Please revise your use of commas’, I feel particularly unqualified to speak on the subject of grammar.
For me there is not much on Facebook that is more annoying than the illiteracy demonstrated by some of my peers. Although, with the increasing focus that potential employers have on Facebook, the long posts from childhood fraught with exclamation marks and various other bizarre features of the keyboard, no longer seem as popular. Nowadays, I think that the main thing people my age would write about on Facebook is charity events and various other promotions, the result being that there is not too much scope for huge grammatical errors. Thus, there aren’t really long rambling paragraphs like there used to be, and I can peruse through my timeline with relative peace of mind.
Although I would say that the importance of Grammar can also be seen to potentially differ between the various forms of social media. Instagram especially means that people feel the need to think increasingly hard about a witty pun or funny caption to use in conjunction with their photo. Whilst any misspelling or misuse of grammar will inevitably be picked up upon by the self appointed grammar police. As such, there is a certain motivation not to give these people the satisfaction of being their next victim.
On the other hand, Snapchat stories which will only grace the world for a mere 24 hours, contain far more slang and consequently, far less focus on a correct grammatical structure. (This is also compounded by the fact that the majority of these are posted at about 2am, so whilst one’s reservations about posting online are lowered, as are the coherency of their words…)
As one would expect, the social media form which suffers most for lack of correct punctuation has to be Twitter. Limited to a mere 140 characters, one’s content takes preference over anything else, and abbreviations and misspellings are common place. To use a particularly famous example, President Donald Trump’s Twitter is fraught with such inaccuracies, a recent sentence started with the word ‘am’. Clearly, not even one of the most influential twitter accounts is protected from the effects that the word limit has on grammar.
To conclude, what turned out to be a slightly more interesting exercise than I first expected, I do think Grammar is especially important on some forms of social media (Facebook, Instagram), where there is a more lasting effect and seeming to be vaguely literate is definitely a positive impression to leave. Whereas it unfortunately suffers at the hands of others (Twitter, Snapchat), due to the brief nature of these forms, either in structure or temporality.
Therefore, until the next revolutionary means of contacting each other online appears, that is all I feel the need to say on the subject.
[Tom is currently reading English at York University]