Sunday, November 30, 2014

Instant Gratification Taken Too Far: Technology's Effect on Language

Ever since the first humans discovered their ability to communicate, language has been an exceedingly powerful tool in the way we have dealt with situations. As times changed, our communication did too. Cave paintings became grunts and grunts became words and our words have become eloquently put together speech. Over time, words have destroyed cities and established governments. They have created relationships and bonds and kept centuries of history alive. However has this cultural evolution into a new age of technology affected our ability to communicate in a negative manner? Our language skills have seemingly taken a turn for the worse as the message we are trying to send quickly takes precedence over the detail and emotion behind it. Long gone are the days of long written letters in exchange for a much quicker and more convenient text message. The intent of our communication has also changed. More often than not, we say things because we “can” rather than because we “should”. While these new type of technologies such as text messaging or social media may satisfy our need for instant communication, they bring upon more consequences than we may have imagined.
Bigger, faster, stronger. That has forever been the goal of the human race. With more technology, there is an influx of new ways to communicate meaning we have the ability to contact anyone, even those across the world, in less than a second. While this new found ability has its obvious benefits, it may also cause us to forget the value and power that words can hold. Let alone the toll it has taken on our spelling and grammatical skills and memory, under this new blanket of protection, we have seemingly also become desensitized to the abuse of language. Common websites such as Facebook or YouTube have strings of hurtful demeaning comments made by people hiding under the anonymity of a username. While some may argue that this anonymity allows people to express themselves openly, we often times forget we are talking to an actual person rather than a megapixel screen.
The human love for instant gratification has clearly had a negative effect on our language. No longer do we read the whole novel because why bother when SparkNotes exists? While I too am guilty of this, the consequences of these newfound shortcuts can be severe. Despite various studies throwing evidence of the benefit of books in our faces, we continue to take the faster and easier way out. There is something to be said about completing a task full and through without taking a shorter route. In essence, to most, a handwritten letter will always hold more meaning than the same thing typed in an email or Facebook message. Perhaps, we as a society need to put instant gratification aside and take some time to fully realize the impact that words and language can have. 

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