Friday, 15 April 2016


We need to move past myths about e-language that the physical constraints of the new media will inevitably diminish our appetite for sustained text and thought.

Emails, Facebook, Text messages, Twitter, YouTube, some experts argue threaten to infantilise the brain. Some also say that social media is used at the expense of all other forms.

In other words, if the words, if the electronic uprising excludes other writing completely, we probably would be left thinking in short snatches.

But that is akin to saying that if the only sport we played was football, then no one would be good at tennis.....that's a big and unlikely "if".

These arguments remind me of the moral panic that has beset every new form of communication. People claimed the printing press was the devil's tool because it could disseminate lies. The telephone was going to cause family breakdown because we would stop talking to each other in person.

Now social media will deteriorate our brains because we are going to abandon all other forms of writing!

There is no credible evidence to support this assumption. Schools still require essays. Workplaces still produce reports. Universities still award degrees for these. Writers still publish books.

Writing in the new media is not a replacement but an addition to traditional genres. Much of it is a hybrid form somewhere between speech and formal writing.

It means kids are, in fact, doing a lot more writing and mastering a much wider range of styles.

"I hear YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are merging to form a super Social Media site – YouTwitFace.
~~ Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show (June 2009)

These bookends have been part of my life for many decades. I am sure books aren't going anywhere anytime soon.


Kim Hambric said...

Excellent points. My 14-year-old daughter is caught up in the social media craze. It isn't always bad, though. Her school friends live far away and the kids can't get together as often as they like. They 'do' FaceTime almost every day. It is there way of hanging out together -- they can hear as well as see each other. Often, in the car, I criticize my daughter for not looking out the window at the passing world. Then I realize she is reading a book. Sometimes there is mind-numbing slacking on the computer and iphone. But I do agree that these are additional forms of communication -- not replacements.

Christine said...

Peggy these days I find electronic media so much more convenient but I do still read the actual newspaper.

Debra She Who Seeks said...


Did I just prove your point, LOL?

Lisleman said...

Good point. Change is typically harder to accept the older you get. It does seem the smartphone is so addictive that many fail to interact with the real world around them. Another big change is pictures and sharing pictures. It can make life more stressful for teenagers.

In the end they are new types of tools. We will adapt to them just in time to take on the next set of tools.

Mike Smith said...

YouTwitFace. Brilliant! Social media and blogs have their place - I wouldn't have been able to call you a great friend otherwise!

Good and plenty said...

I agree and disagree with you Peggy. I think that those of us who grew up before social media tend to connect with all media and pick and choose which media - print, phone, email, tweet, etc. works best. we also sometimes say more in media that wishes us to say less. Among young people I know who've only grown up with technology - they choose texting over conversations, reading online much more frequently than reading print. Recent stories in the news spoke of a college getting rid of mail boxes in its dorm because there was such low usage of them and there are some schools that are getting rid of print libraries. I know that my attention span has shorted and I have to force myself to single-task and ignore then pings of my cellphone which is in reality a mini-computer now. Virtually no one calls me to have long conversations any more, save my Mom. People do use caller ID to screen calls whereas before we'd mostly pick up the phone not having a clue who'd be on the other end. Social media does unite those of us who love the printed word, love vinyl, love to make but, overtime, it also erodes bringing younger people into the fold. My niece in college said that she never used her textbooks - everything was pretty much done online.
Thaks for this post.

Anonymous said...

I think the future of books and writing is safe, at least in this house. Little miss (now 8) made a letterbox this week out of a cardboard box and everyone in the family has written her letters. She doesn't have a phone. B (now 12) has a you tube account Twitter and skype and messages his friends online while playing computer games. He doesn't have a phone either. I used to phone my friends but he messages them, in effect writing to them.
They both love books and read every night.
Now we have lots more ways and opportunities of connecting and communicating with people.
Check out Very short story on Twitter for some creativity. A books been published of their work!

miruspeg said...

Hello Kim, Christine, Debra, Bill, Mike, Candelaria and Robyn
Thanks for taking the time to share your stories and points of view.
I feel blessed to have such interesting, articulate blog friends.
Please continue to keep sharing.
Big heart hugs
Peggy xxxxxx

Beautifulsky said...

I agree books aren't going anywhere. But I do think our little gadgets make us very isolated. It is so normal now for people to tap away at their phones regardless of the setting. I was in a group interview situation and three people had got their phones out and were tapping away. Not that I mind - but I think added together we just live these separate lives, with our little machines. I have been tempted to get a smart phone - but still resisting. Without a smart phone I will get a break from emails. There will be times - shock horror - when I am unreachable!! Imagine that!? And I will have to 'live' in a moment because I won't be able to photograph or film it to view later.

bill lisleman said...

Hey how is winter coming along down there?

miruspeg said...

Hey Bill
Winter finally showed it's face at the beginning of June along with torrential rain, so I've been keeping warm at night in my lounge room in front of the television......but I can feel a blog post coming on!
Thanks for stopping by my friend. I'll pop over and see what you have been up to now.
Peggy xxxx

miruspeg said...

Hello Celia (Beautifulsky)
Sorry I have taken so long to reply....I've been on my smart phone!!
I love my smart phone, I love being about to read my emails before I get home, I love the apps and I love that I always have a camera on hand.
I never have it on the table at a restaurant when I am out with friends, but that is because I am old and wise and I know it is very rude to let your phone interrupt conversations.
Let's talk soon on the old fashioned land line!
Big hugs
Peggy xxxxx