I spend a lot of time on Twitter seeking news, music updates, sports updates, following random celebrities, researching new poets and authors, and generally just wasting a bit of time, and brainless energy. Prior to Twitter it was the ongoing click of the refresh button on Facebook, and before Facebook it was the Myspace feed. Myspace and Facebook allowed a bit of promise for the younger generation. We were able to fully express our thoughts – whether or not that was always a good thing is definitely something to consider – and actually take a bit of time to write a “note,” or an elongated status update. Twitter seems to have simply given people a forum in which they feel comfortable being uneducated and illiterate.
It’s true that 140 characters is not a lot of space with which to fully express oneself. It’s easy to abbreviate words, use acronyms that few of us older than 25 understand, and generally forget that common grammar exists. What I find incredibly unfortunate is that the majority of those using this grammar-less approach are those who are the most followed.
Our site spends a good deal of time on the hip-hop culture because it’s a natural progression from poetry. There are some incredibly well spoken hip-hop artists: Common, Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Nas, KRS-ONE, Q-Tip. If you’re noticing a trend, you should be. All of those MCs have been around since the early 90’s, if not a bit earlier. They grew up in a time where it was important to understand the words they were putting out – they were there / are here to educate their listeners – much like poets write in order to educate and allow their readers to contemplate their words. Today’s MCs are far less willing to take the time to read over what they write before they click “Tweet.” Actually, that’s not a fair statement. Most people are unwilling to read over what they write before they click “Tweet.”
Since Twitter occupies a good deal of time for the younger generation, the neglect of those they follow to use even the most basic of conventional grammar begins to seep into the general population. We had started a “Grammar Police” section on the site a while back, but we soon realized that we’d be going after everyone, and it became more of brain challenge than we wanted (It’s not helpful to show you, our readers, what other people are doing wrong, because we’d rather inspire you to do what’s right.).
As an educator I fear what my students are learning from their celebrity influences. I know that Charles Barkley wants us to believe that athletes, celebs, and musicians aren’t “role models,” but they are. I just wish they would take a bit more care in what they type. If they don’t, we are looking at a very scary generation of those who have little concept of a well-written sentence.