I am not afraid to admit it: I am one of those people who hate social media, and I’m really starting to hate the Internet. I’m not saying that these things don’t have their advantages; in fact, I spend quite a bit of time on the Internet. But what really gets under my skin and make me want to burn every server in the world is the way that the Internet and social media is ruining the English language, and in a lot of cases, life.
First and foremost, the Internet is teaching people how to not speak properly. Not only is it creating ridiculous new words (like “selfie”), shortening everything (like “idk”, “omg”, “cray”, or “delish”), creating new meanings for previous words (“Facebook” is not a verb, and “feels” is not a noun), even giving new names to old things (“#” is a number or pound sign, not a “hashtag”, whatever that means), but it’s destroying grammar. I hardly know anyone anymore who knows how to use apostrophes and commas correctly. In some cases, more often with text messages, people don’t even know how to use periods (creating confusing run-on sentences that I must decode) or question marks (by either using too many or none at all). Now this wouldn’t be so horrible if it was contained on the Internet, on places like Facebook or Twitter, or in text messages. But when children see that it’s okay to just throw grammar to the wind online, they don’t really learn how to use it. Teachers can only do so much; for a kid to really grasp something, they need to practice it. But when they go home at night and spend their time on Facebook, reading and posting in improperly formed sentences, they don’t really learn how to use grammar correctly. Then it gets to the point where they’re writing shit for essays in school. I’m ashamed to say I see this a lot in college too, though less often in my creative writing classes. Then there are the “typos” caused by a lack of proof-reading. I understand that sometimes when sending a text message, time is of the essence. This is especially true when in an argument. But it would take literally five seconds to quickly read over a text, Facebook post, or Tweet before sending it. Just five seconds and you can catch small little mistakes that are unnecessary. But today, people are just too damn lazy to give two shits about what they say. Everyone has this “I don’t care, they know what I’m trying to say anyway” attitude. Or, they say “I’m too busy to re-read things” or “no one cares”. Again, this wouldn’t be the end of the world if it was just contained on the Internet. But like with kids in school, adults bring this to the work force. My father reads the Daily News from New York every day at lunch, and he is always catching grammatical errors. (This is especially alarming, since grammar isn’t my father’s strongest subject.) And even on television and the movies, the horrors of the Internet can be found. Almost every commercial advertises some kind of “hashtag”. Example: “#HowDoYouKFC”. What is the necessity in this? Not to mention that KFC is a combination of letters that represents Kentucky Fried Chicken, and is not in itself, or through what it represents, a verb. Every product has its own hashtag (or the product’s slogan does). Every movie has one. To make things even more disgusting, there’s even a movie titled “That Awkward Moment”, which is just the cherry on top. Try to make a “hashtag” out of that – oh, wait. There already is one. That doesn’t get confusing?
The destruction caused by social media and the Internet doesn’t stop there, though. There are phrases and “clever” (in who’s eyes, I’m not entirely sure) things that people seem to want to use over and over again. I’m talking about those “that moment when” or “that awkward moment when” posts. Not every story you tell needs to start out like that. It was nice the first maybe five times. But by the five millionth, it just became irritating. It’s especially annoying when the following situation doesn’t even really make sense. Example: “That awkward moment when you go to make toast and there’s no bread in the fridge.” How the hell is that awkward? It just means that someone needs to go to the damn store. But apparently that’s not enough. Someone somewhere had to go invent what I call improper Franglais, combining French and English that doesn’t even make sense when translated. Example: A drawing of someone lying in bed with the caption “le me in le bed”. In what world is that creative or clever? To me, it’s an insult to the French (and English) language! Part of me is curious, though, if French people would say “the moi dans the lit”, which would be a direct opposite translation of the previous sentence. I’m praying that they don’t, lest I lose all faith in humanity.
It’s not all about destroying the language, though. Facebook and Twitter have been abused. We all (who have profiles on these sites) have seen someone air their dirty laundry online for the world to see. Not only does this annoy people who follow you and read your posts or Tweets as they show up in their feeds, but it causes problems, sometimes going as far as starting a dramatic shit-fest. Facebook is not the place to call out your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend for cheating on your or treating you like shit. It’s also not the place to update the world on what you are eating for breakfast or lunch. (Just like Instagram is not the place to upload pictures of these meals.) Newsflash: no one really cares.
It is to the point now where I can’t even go on the Internet. I avoid Facebook, Twitter, and most other social media and blogging sits as much as possible. When I do go on, it doesn’t take me long before I start wanting to pull my hair out or slap someone, although sometimes texting my friends or even my parents (my mother is the worst) elicits the same reactions. Let’s face it: I’ve lost all faith in the human race. I’m afraid to ever have kids, simply because I don’t want to raise a social media-obsessed, illiterate dummy. Sometimes I want to move to France, but I fear that the Internet is destroying the French language as well.
April 3, 2014