As you get older do you ever find that the phrase 'Well, back in my day'
has somehow managed to find its way into your vernacular? Back in my day when
the buses were 60p, back in my day when people used to put up with My Little
Pony, even the boys, and back in my day when we had none of this internet
malarkey and used to entertain ourselves with a hula hoop.
Nowadays it seems that our society is very much dependent and centred
upon the internet and the zeitgeist of our era, social networking (we even had
a film about it). Social networking has come under fire from the 'back in my
day' critics who fret that the advancement of technology is to blame for a
nation of underachievers, encouraging narcissism, the transition of text speak from
mobile phones to everyday discourse, and our general 'age of illiteracy'. I can
understand the fear that the lexis used on social networking sites could
encourage poor grammar, but I haven't heard of many instances
where pupils have wrote 'Sheksper wz a propa ledge. Hiz legacy is 2GTBT. BF4
Although it could be bad news if you understand what that jargon means.
Lord Bragg, who recently put together a BBC Radio 4 series called The
Written World, has stated that he thinks social networking sites such as
Facebook and Twitter have proved to be beneficial in making writing accessible
to the masses. Web 2.0 has given people of all ages access to a plethora of forums,
blogs and other forms of output which require you to write away to your heart
is content. If my university experience was anything to go by, I'm sure a poll
amongst students would confirm that social networking has put the pleasure back
into writing, pleasure that had previously been stripped away by arduous and tedious
If you're interested in tracing the history of the written word
from cuneiform writing of 5,000 years ago to the invention of newsprint, Bragg's
radio series may be of interest to you.
Professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University, Andrea Lunsford, organised a project where she collected 14,672 student writing
examples. From her research she was able to say that technology isn't killing
our ability to write, but is in fact reviving it and pushing it to places that
it has never been before. Her results found that we are writing more than any
generation before and a massive 38 per cent of writing is taking place outside
of the classroom.
We are facing a paradigm shift.
The internet offers venues for our constant stream of thoughts and
feelings, something which was previously half-heartedly filled by the keeping
of a diary and let's be honest, the lack of audience could sometimes lead us to
fill it in just several times a month. I'm more committed to Facebook than I
ever have been to my diary. Budding writers or not, the users of social networks
today have to assess and review their audience and then adapt their style,
tone and technique in order to cater for them or to deliver their message.
this not a useful skill to possess when facing an interviewer or a debate in
the office or classroom?
Maybe I should start saying 'today' rather than 'back in my day' more
often. 'Today' our generation of writing is more about persuading, organising
and debating and if you're not a fan, maybe you should dig out that diary you
always struggled to keep.