You may think “txtin is gr8 & quik & easy 2 rite” but I think it’s one of the chief factors contributing to the decline of the English language, and of good written communication.
Not everyone agrees. Some people believe texting has no real impact on language and communication skills. (You can read a defense of that position in a recent Globe and Mail article called Dictionary Thumpers, a word, pls.) They believe people are able to effortlessly switch between texting and the more formal language required for reports, essays, or business communications. I think they’re wrong.
As a teacher of college students I’ve noticed text shorthand slipping into their work. At best it obscures the meaning of what they are writing about; at worst, if the reader isn’t familiar with the shorthand it’s simply nonsensical.
Texting is what I think of as “sloppy, lazy communication.” What I mean by that is the constant use of abbreviations is really a way out of having to write proper sentences and spell correctly.
Writing is a skill developed through regular effort and careful attention to detail. If someone habitually writes with attention to grammar, sentence structure, and ultimately to clearly communicating ideas, that person’s ability to write well will steadily improve.
Texting, on the other hand, is about memorizing abbreviations and teaching your thumbs to toil over a tiny keypad. It’s a crude form of expression, and it won’t improve your ability to communicate, beyond, perhaps, your closest circle of friends. (And it certainly won’t improve your writing abilities.)
It’s true that many people text messages primarily in their personal lives, not at work. But if you encourage sloppiness in one form of writing, it can lead to sloppiness in others. It’s a slippery slope. If you text your friends, it’s easy to fall into the habit of texting your clients, or work colleagues. Shoddy workplace communication doesn’t do anyone any favours.
That’s how texting is killing communication, in a nutshell. And there are three other reasons to avoid texting, imho.
- Someone reading your message may not understand the shorthand you are using. For example, the abbreviation I just used, “imho.” In my humble opinion anything that confuses communication is to be avoided.
- A sentence like “txtin is gr8 & quik & easy 2 rite” looks terrible, and insults our intelligence as literate people.
- Texting is a fad, a fashion, and the problem with anything faddish is that it is also usually conformist. If you write in “text” language you are limiting your own individuality and strengths as a communicator.
People often defend texting by saying it’s just a quick method of communicating basic information. The ironic thing is that texting isn’t necessarily faster than writing something out in full. (You will know this if you’ve ever tried to compose a text message!). It can be ponderously slow. It can also be dangerous, and I don’t just mean dangerous to language and communication.
We’ve all seen people crossing a busy intersection, thumbs busily working, as they try and text while walking. Some people even text while driving! No wonder you sometimes see electronic highway signs saying, “there is a severe fine for texting while driving.” And yet people still do it. Texting when you should be paying attention to traffic is downright foolish, or, to put it in text language (courtesy of the text message translator at Lingo2 Word: “txtN yl walkin n drvN S dum.”
And remember, “txtN kills Coms.” Agree? Disagree?