Communicating via social media is, for me, one of life’s great annoyances.
Somehow, in what seems to be the blink of an eye, we’ve reduced our written language from Something there is that doesn’t love a wall to what amounts to Blah blah blah click here.
In the Age of Emoji I suppose I should be grateful for words – or even letters. (Surely nobody thinks LOL is a word, right?) But which words? And are they even spelled right?
I’ve been doing this a while now (professionally for 32 years and change). I understand that language “evolves.” But the current trend isn’t evolution, it’s verbal entropy.
Yes, I am a grammatical curmudgeon with sesquipedalianesque tendencies. But that doesn’t make me wrong. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall – my all-time favorite opening line – evokes so much more than @RealRobertFrostVerified might say today: Walls bad IMHO #sorrynotsorry.
Can you imagine Shakespeare on Snapchat? Last year, someone actually released a Bible written in Emoji! I’m sorry (#notsorry) – but that’s not even a language!
One of my favorite editors used to drive me crazy insisting that becoming a truly great writer required reading the King James Bible. And Shakespeare. And Hemmingway. As a journalist, my own writing, on the KJV/Hemmingway scale, skewed hard Hemmingway. Subject-verb-object-period. Simple declarative statements. Active voice. No prepositions. Sentences with the literary meter of hickory dickory dock.
I’m not knocking Hemmingway. To the contrary, after years of wondering why professional writing didn’t employ more Frost, I realized something. Writing like Hemmingway means writing like Frost. And like Shakespeare. And definitely less Emoji.
Seriously. There are profound differences between “the ship was driven by the storm” and “the storm drove the ship.”
We won’t even discuss .
Yes, they say basically the same thing (even the Emoji make something akin to a point). But how they convey the information matters. The author’s intent matters. Is the story about the ship, or the storm that drives it? What’s more important, the storm, the ship or the little cartoon that depicts them? (With Emojis, how can you even tell?)
Of course, even I can admit that modern writing has no appetite for iambic pentameter. But how Shakespeare structured his work instructs us today. Even in the age of 160-character limits.
When information is conveyed as blah blah blah click here, precise word choice and writing style matter more than ever.