I’ve been getting into TED talks a lot recently. Today, this presentation from John McWhorter caught my eye. It’s about the modern use of words and how texting isn’t, contrary to popular belief, killing the English language because it’s more representative of speech than writing.
At 5:01, John says: “texting is very loose in its structure. No one thinks about capital letters or punctuation when one texts.” He then goes on to describe texting as “fingered speech,” exploring the idea of writing in the way we talk.
But John’s wrong. I think about capital letters when texting. I also consider full stops, sentence structure, and avoiding repeated words. In fact, when it comes to texting, I go the distance, and I can’t be the only one.
I also do the same with Twitter, Facebook, and any other online platform.
I understand where he’s coming from though. Texting, instant messaging, and other forms of online communication have made speed the focus, which for many results in shortened terms and missed letters. Sometimes that’s necessary.
But people often forget the power of words. Without due care and attention, words can be misconstrued. An ill thought-out and quickly constructed text could insult or upset someone without meaning to.
In today’s hyper-connected world a message can go viral in minutes. For that reason, contrary to what John’s saying in an otherwise very entertaining and engaging talk, I think people should be more careful when hammering out a text message, IM, or tweet.
What do you think?