Netspeak: the gud + the bad

Our use of social media, whether in social media msgs or irl, has both + and - consequences 4 the way we interact and rel8 2 each other, and upon the evolution of language. 

The gud

  • No1 can deny Netspeak doesn’t take much effort, and it’s efficient, which is important in a capitalist society in which time = $$$.

  • The tendency among Gen Y-ers 2 use Netspeak—whether srsly or sarcastically—in conversation w/ 1 another can b understood as an xpression of solidarity. We grew up w/ the internet (1 of my earliest and fondest memories finds my mother taking me 2 the town library 2 “have a play” on a computer, an activity that c%d keep a three-year-old me totally engrossed 4 hours), and the internet grew up w/ us—we’re all familiar w/ Netspeak and identify w/ the jargon.

The bad

  • Both participants in conversation must b intensely familiar w/ Netspeak and b ax the current lingo in order 2 reap the benefits of efficiency, otherwise the meaning would take longer 2 decode than it otherwise would hv if expressed in plain English.

  • The rapid turnover of Netspeak’s vocabularly can make it hard 2 keep up w/ those currently in common use. In 2004 David Crystal compiled a dxnre of internet jargon from words that had @ some point bn in common use online, and published it as a book. It felt fune turning (not swiping) the pages of his “A-Z of Netspeak” and “A-Z of emoticons,” (boy hv emojis put these guys out of a job) seeing countless inventions I’ve never encounted online, let alone on the printed page. (It actually was sal. My favourites include 1daful, 2ht2hndl, lshmbb, ic**wenuxme, iydkidked, snert, swalk; ~8-) for Harry Potter; =:-o for a hair-raising experience; (::()::) for a bandaid and …_(:)-) a happy scuba diver). But srsly though, my point is, for all the ppl esoteric speech unites, it alienates just as many. (How r u feeling rn? This article aint no thang compared 2 Max Trevor Thomas Edmond’s 100 Notes on an Xlr8nst LinguisticsI still dont undastand wot the title meanz.)

  • On the spectrum of linguistic emotion, w/ poetry @ 1 end and programming code on the other, Netspeak falls further toward the latter. “ily” was 1 of the first abbreviations I dropped in favour of its traditional (not 2 mention iconic, and the consequent nuance that come w/ this) form. Where the use of Netspeak irl is often used 2 establish shared knowledge, “ily” doesn’t seem 2 hv strong enough legs 2 bear the weight of its own sentiment. I hv a feeling Marshall McLuhen would get wot I mean.

  • The efficiency of Netspeak threatens the time it ppl would normally devote 2 cultiv8ing a nuanced relationship with an so. Y take sum1 on a d8 2 get 2 know 1 another, wen u can just type “asl”. Ok, this may b an exaggeration, but what I’m getting at is that, in the efficiency of abbrev8n, u lose some depth. And they do say, “nothing real is ever instant.” In a world where it’s quicker, easier and less ambiguous 2 type “idc” than “water off a duck’s back,” reverence 4 traditional English is taking a back seat. The dangers of efficiency taken 2 the extreme hv not slipped under the radar of humanity, howeva. George Orwell, criticising w0t he observed 2b the decaying standard of English of his day, regretting the increased rarity of langudity and metaphor in speech. It’s almost 2 appropriate Netspeak is just 1 letter away from Newspeak: they’re both terribly terse and empty of deep meaning, and their similarities in function r downright uncanny.

  • It’s common knowledge meanings can b misconstrued far easier thru txt than thru verbal communic8n. Ppl usually put this down 2 the lack of facial expression and tone of voice, which r likely the main reasons, but the lack of depth in abbrevi8n can’t escape the blame entirely, either.

  • Coz it takes little effort, Netspeak comes across careless, thus it can portray a careless attitude that is not appropriate 4 <3felt or professional writing.