We have two teenage daughters in the house and they are adept at using social networking on a daily basis. Observing their use of technology is like witnessing them carry an extra appendage — smartphones in hand, tablets by their sides and chromebooks at the ready. They engage in a myriad of technological tools, but the one that sparks my curiosity most is Twitter.
Created in 2006, Twitter changed the way we communicate. It’s like public texting on steroids. As a result, recorded words and ideas can spread faster than ever. Registering for Twitter is fairly simple, but even non-registered users can read each other’s tweets. For example, the official twitter page of College of DuPage is @CollegeDuPage and today’s tweet is: Celebrate #realpresidentsday, today is Washington’s birthday!
Twitter allows a 140 letter character limit — just a few spaces to compose your thoughts. Due to space constraints, abbreviations or shortcuts come in handy such as: RT-ing: Retweeting or rn: right now. Dropping vowels is common: “classroom” becomes “classrm” and extra articles are omitted — there’s no use for “the” or “an.” But for all of this convenience and speed, has it oversimplified our communication? Are we too impatient to write in a full sentence much less a paragraph anymore? How can we adapt to this social change in language?
The breaking snippets of narrative may perpetuate the harried nature of communication. Do it now, get it done. It goes against the process of writing and thinking before publishing and making it public. Is tweeting like posting a mini rough draft or is it considered a final permanent draft? Students have told me they sometimes regret what they tweet on the spur of the moment without revising or taking time to think. They want to go back and delete or erase what they have written. But that’s the central paradox of Twitter — a tweet appears as fast as a shooting star, but unlike the streak of light that falls and ultimately fades away, a tweet is a permanent archive and one that can be read and referenced again.