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View Full Version : How unhealthy is technology for writers?



Idkwiaowiw
01-12-2010, 03:13 AM
I don't mean computers, but how unhealthy is the text lingo, the smiley icons, the pop culture, the reality shows, TV/computer in general? Is the internet just trash (eliminating research sites/a website like this, specifically to help writers?) Oh my. Does this even make sense?

Khimera9
01-12-2010, 03:32 AM
online videogames distract me from writing if that's what you mean. :D

Matera the Mad
01-12-2010, 03:38 AM
IMO anything that encourages sloppy writing and sloppy thinking is unhealthy. The Internet is not to blame for what is put into it. But TV, the Evil Grandmother, is a taproot of stupidity.

Learning to sift and evaluate information is a must. If it isn't being nurtured somewhere, somewhen, either in the home or at school, it isn't going to catch on very well.

The Evil Grandmother suffocates minds, and thought dies happy.

jvc
01-12-2010, 03:41 AM
I get distracted by everything. When I'm distracted I get distracted from being distracted. Even now I'm distracted. At some point I'm not going to be distracted, and there'll be a thread move to another room. I am distracted though. So it won't happen right away. If only there were less distracted people who weren't always distracted by distracting things, there'd be no distracted people anymore and just one green bottle sitting on the wall.

I blame the internet. And television.

Shadow_Ferret
01-12-2010, 03:42 AM
I agree about the sloppy writing, sloppy thinking thing, Matera. But I don't believe that TV is any sort of evil or that it somehow suffocates minds.

Sure, there are some lowest common denominator shows such as low level sitcoms and reality shows, but there is a lot of intelligent work there, not to mention educational shows.

I watch a lot of TV, but I don't watch much on network TV.

the addster
01-12-2010, 03:52 AM
I don't think any of that is necessarily bad for writers. Reality TV and the internet are just the latest in linguistic and cultural trash. There has always been something.

I wouldn't speak to you in the same way I speak to someone from my home town. I don't write like this when writing for real.

I have watched Rock Of Love, but I've also read the classics.

Everything has it's place.

If intelligence and culture was degenerating at the rate that has been predicted since folks could make predictions, we would have all just been grunting for a long time now.

mscelina
01-12-2010, 03:56 AM
None of it affects my writing. Writing is my profession. I would no more allow American Idol or textspeak to interfere with any other profession, be it waiting tables or teaching Latin. As a professional, it's my responsibility to approach writing in an adult and educated manner--and that includes what I permit to influence my writing from everyday life.

Libbie
01-12-2010, 03:57 AM
I think the internet is a tool like any other. You can use it for good or evil.

As for text writing, I think it needs to be staked through the heart. It's a bad habit to fall into, if your goal is to communicate with a large number of people.

NeuroFizz
01-12-2010, 04:39 AM
Smilies and other emoticons cause cerebro-rectal cancer.

Polenth
01-12-2010, 05:52 AM
It'll steal away your imagination! Flee while you still can!

Wayne K
01-12-2010, 05:55 AM
:roll:

LOG
01-12-2010, 06:01 AM
I thrive in technology.
Zoombie, where are you?

blacbird
01-12-2010, 08:14 AM
I don't mean computers, but how unhealthy is the text lingo, the smiley icons, the pop culture, the reality shows, TV/computer in general?

None of this is beyond your control. The bolded, above, is a good example of stuff I pay utterly no attention to, and therefore consumes zero mental energy. Nobody forces you to fart around with this nonsense.

caw

AryaT92
01-12-2010, 08:29 AM
^ What he said.

caw

Claudia Gray
01-12-2010, 08:50 AM
The internet is a huge way people communicate with each other. If you're not interested in how people communicate, then I'm not sure why you'd even want to be a writer. Just because one particular slang term/lingo/etc. is not your particular mode of expression doesn't make it invalid, or the people who use it stupid.

Honestly engaging with other people, and wanting to see how they view the world, is incredibly healthy for writers, and for most people, I'd think.

Ms Hollands
01-12-2010, 12:57 PM
I luv tchnlgy nd u no u do 2.

Seriously, like others have said, I don't see any problem with any of the above. I do think there'd be far fewer writers around today without post-typewriter technology (myself included).

Chasing the Horizon
01-12-2010, 01:25 PM
I think, if anything, the internet is making people more articulate. I'm in several online communities that aren't devoted to writing (AW is hardly a fair test of, lol), and most of the young people who've grown up with the internet are shockingly articulate in writing, even more so than I was at that age. It's because so much of the internet is text-based, and these kids spend ALL their free time online. They're reading and writing ten times more than people did pre-internet. In fact, the worst posts on my other forums generally come from older people who grew up pre-internet. They've obviously forgotten everything they ever learned in school about grammar and spelling, probably from lack of use.

It might be worth noting that a lot of places, including the other online communities I participate in, have banned chat-speak because serious writers aren't the only ones who find it annoying as hell.

Bluegate
01-12-2010, 02:17 PM
Well, you can also look at as a new fangle way humans have found to thin the herd. Technology has opened up a world of doors for people who are willing to do the hard work. It has also provided self induced comas for those who don't. Less of them=more for us. I know it's evil. It's what I do.

gothicangel
01-12-2010, 02:19 PM
I've heard a lot of lecturers complaining that text-speak is leaking into Undergraduate work.

MGraybosch
01-12-2010, 04:17 PM
I've heard a lot of lecturers complaining that text-speak is leaking into Undergraduate work.

I don't get that, but I never got into using textspeak or chatspeak. I've been online for 12 years, and I never indulged in gratuitous abbreviations. I have, however, linked to goatse.cx on numerous occasions. >^..^<

JimmyB27
01-12-2010, 04:53 PM
IMO anything that encourages sloppy writing and sloppy thinking is unhealthy.
Well, of course, that's not really in question. The question is; does technology and, specifically, the Internet, encourage sloppy writing and sloppy thinking?
Well, not necessarily. Children who use technology are 'better writers' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8392653.stm) says the UK's National Literacy Trust.

Mr Douglas dismissed criticisms about the informal writing styles often adopted in online chat and "text speak", both of which can lack grammar and dictionary-correct spelling.

"Does it damage literacy? Our research results are conclusive - the more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills."

RJK
01-12-2010, 05:21 PM
I'll bet they had this same discussion 100 years ago about typewriters, automobiles, telephones, and light bulbs.

NeuroFizz
01-12-2010, 05:28 PM
I've heard a lot of lecturers complaining that text-speak is leaking into Undergraduate work.
Not in my classes. They may try it once, but I haven't had a single student try it a second time. If it is leaking in, the fault lies with the instructors.

Wayne K
01-12-2010, 05:43 PM
I think it's like anything else, it's good if you use it wisely. By doing Uncle Jim's thread I learned in a few months, what would have taken me years.

Here on AW, I've done what I never could have done without the internet. Where else are you going to find a half dozen beta readers and line by line critiques from people who know what they're talking about?

Free.

Also, there are writing programs. When I was in 8th grade I wrote a book with pen and paper, and typed it out with an electric typewriter. It took almost a year, and a thousand sheets of paper. With MS, I correct the word instead of using white out, or tearing up the page.

It's not technology, it's the writer who determines whether or not it's evil.

FWIW

Manuel Royal
01-12-2010, 06:00 PM
I don't use smilies (Ambrose Bierce didn't either, so there). But I do have a bad habit of getting distracted by the amazing resource sitting in front of me. I'm writing away, and a thought occurs that requires looking something up, and then it's half an hour web-surfing from one subject to another. Totally breaks my concentration.

So I've had to discipline myself into making notes for later research instead.

Clair Dickson
01-12-2010, 06:24 PM
At this point, since I think all phones (or at least all phones that people who text use) have predictive text and keyboards are still normal on the computer, that there is no excuse for abbreviating everything like once upon a time. I type u in my phone and it suggests 'you'-- it's actually easier on my phone to let it use the word you than to force it to accept u.

Besides, it clearly takes a huge heap of brain retraining to read and write using text speak-- it's probably more of a slang to separate those who are hip/cool/bad/ whatever from the "old" people who are not, than anything useful or practical, imho.

I don't think anything is inherently harmful. I know plenty of people who text with full sentences because, as I said above, it's often easier mentally and phone-wise to just use the predictive text and write normally.

What you do with the technology is up to you. Just like what you do with a hammer is up to you. I use hammers to break parts of my house... and then give the hammer to my brother the fix it. ;-) The tool is neither good nor bad, but merely a tool.

ETA: If my high school students put anythint text-speak in a paper or homework assignment, I laugh at them and mark it down. They KNOW better.

NeuroFizz
01-12-2010, 06:29 PM
I have no problem with using text-speak for texting (and for some other forms of communication). Some of it appears here in various posts and that's no biggie. But if I ask for an essay on the form and function of the somatosensory cortex on one of my exams, I had better get the answer in standard English.

Jamesaritchie
01-12-2010, 06:41 PM
Text speak doesn't strike me as any different than the way the great majority of the public wrote letters back before computers and the internet.

The internet, like everything else, is mostly crap. Whether writers allow themelves to be partof the crap is up to them.

gothicangel
01-12-2010, 07:13 PM
Not in my classes. They may try it once, but I haven't had a single student try it a second time. If it is leaking in, the fault lies with the instructors.

Not that I've ever done it!

*Terrified of all-powerful tutors:flag:

Maxinquaye
01-12-2010, 09:32 PM
Language evolves. Written language evolves. It is one of my great fascinations (and fears!) about how the written word is changing when 90% of the kids spend hours every day writing to each other.

Internet is just twenty years old, and has been societally pervasive for just half that time, at least in the west.

You've seen nothing yet.

Libbie
01-12-2010, 09:38 PM
I really don't give a hoot that language evolves. Trying to read butchered text-speak is like gouging out one's eyeballs with a Dixie cup. It doesn't help that the stilted nature of the writing causes me read it with an internal voice that makes the writer sound like a troglodyte.

Clarity of communication is still important, even though language evolves.

Maxinquaye
01-12-2010, 09:43 PM
I agree. So we'll sit and go alcoholic from reading it. But neither you or I will be able to stop the changes that I fear are coming. It won't be a transition to leet-speak. Of course not, but the all-pervasive writing will affect things.

And that will be fascinating. In my drunken stupor as I drink away the ruination of language and art and whatnot.

brokenfingers
01-12-2010, 10:20 PM
There can be no doubt that technology has affected the way we read, so it only makes sense that the way we write has changed also.

Besides words, grammar and punctuation rules changing, attention spans have gotten shorter, and so consequently, stories have become terser, more compact. Less description and narrative are tolerated anymore.

With the easy availability of large pools of information, many basic patterns of storytelling have become “boring”, “old” or “clichéd” and the writer must perforce seek out new structures and patterns to tell their tale.

With the advent of the internet, the way people read physically has even changed, with the eyes (and the mind) quickly flitting about in certain patterns to absorb snippets of information quickly.

So yeah, for better or worse, technology has definitely affected how we read and how we write.

Here's an interesting article to peruse: Is Google Making Us Stupid? (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google)

Maxinquaye
01-12-2010, 10:26 PM
Besides words, grammar and punctuation rules changing, attention spans have gotten shorter, and so consequently, stories have become terser, more compact. Less description and narrative are tolerated anymore.


I absolutely disagree with this, after seeing my nephew read LotR for the first time, and he's not a solitary child either. He's devoured the whole Harry Potter-saga too, like his compatriots.

People are just as willing to be swept away by great writing as ever. It's just that the cost of publishing such books, in this market, probably squeezes out newer writers from getting to publish those kinds of books.

DeadlyAccurate
01-12-2010, 10:36 PM
It might be worth noting that a lot of places, including the other online communities I participate in, have banned chat-speak because serious writers aren't the only ones who find it annoying as hell.

Most of the gamer forums I peruse are written in clear, articulate English. Of course, sites that permit terrible grammar tend not to be ones I hang out on often. (The worst seems to be the IMDB forums and news sites).

I think something else we don't often consider is that pre-Internet, we simply didn't read the writings of the less coherent on a daily basis. Those people tended not to like writing and avoided it whenever possible. Now, we read the writings of everyone, so it makes sense we'd see more bad writing than we did in the past.

Oh, and in my experience the worst writers online have been either the younger, rebellious teen set or the older, new-to-the-Internet folks. The teens seem to get out of it eventually.

gothicangel
01-12-2010, 11:54 PM
I just don't get on with text-speak. I text in grammatically correct English.

Bluegate
01-13-2010, 12:26 AM
I just don't get on with text-speak. I text in grammatically correct English.

I don't use text-speak either but I can see the alure of it. I do not have a keyboard on my phone because I did not see myself texting when I bought the thing. It is a huge hassle to write a message out with the phone keys so I avoid it like plague. When I do text I simply can't bring myself to use the abreviations. It just looks stupid and childish to me.

blacbird
01-13-2010, 12:36 AM
But if I ask for an essay on the form and function of the somatosensory cortex on one of my exams, I had better get the answer in standard English.

I don't think that would be remotely possible.

caw

MGraybosch
01-13-2010, 01:03 AM
But if I ask for an essay on the form and function of the somatosensory cortex on one of my exams, I had better get the answer in standard English.

Does your notion of "standard English" permit the use of jargon in this context?

Chasing the Horizon
01-13-2010, 04:20 AM
Besides words, grammar and punctuation rules changing, attention spans have gotten shorter, and so consequently, stories have become terser, more compact. Less description and narrative are tolerated anymore.

With the easy availability of large pools of information, many basic patterns of storytelling have become “boring”, “old” or “clichéd” and the writer must perforce seek out new structures and patterns to tell their tale.
I read somewhere (probably here on AW) that the reason books are less descriptive than they were 50 or 100 years ago is because nowadays people have visual references to far more environments than they used to, due to television and movies. Even if you've never been to the desert, or a tropical island, or a cliff overlooking the ocean, you've doubtlessly seen one on TV, and thus know what it looks like. This has rendered elaborate setting descriptions unnecessary in most genres (fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction being the exceptions).

And it's true that more exposure to plots in movies and television has made people less fond of boring, old, cliched ideas, but I don't consider this a bad thing. ;)

Elijah Sydney
01-13-2010, 04:49 AM
What really amazes me is that with all the technology aimed at entertainment – with 3D movies, computers, internet, gaming consoles, hand held games, etc, etc – people still read books. Good old fashioned books – things that were around hundreds of years ago. They still compete.

NeuroFizz
01-13-2010, 05:17 AM
Does your notion of "standard English" permit the use of jargon in this context?
Scientific jargon is, of course, part of the deal. I'll even allow some slang-like words, but we have been charged with improving the writing skills of the undergraduates regardless of the discipline we teach. That means we expect the students to be able to write complete sentences, develop their thoughts in a logical way, and convey the necessary information with the terminology developed in the specific class. "Writing Across the Curriculum" or similar programs are staples of most undergraduate institutions. Discipline-specific jargon is integrated into the mastery of what I call standard or basic English in the various departments of the universities.

It gets to be paradoxical, however, since many of the specific scientific terms are reduced to abbreviations. For example, a bioactive peptide I work with is FMRFamide, with each of the letters an "official" code for a specific amino acid. Phenyalanine (F), methionine (M), arginine (R), phenyalanine (F) amide. So much of the scientific literature reads like text-speak to those who don't know the abbreviations. When asked to review papers for journals, I often rail on authors for overuse of abbreviations (it doesn't save that much ink), if that's any consolation. We let students use some of the abbreviations in the undergraduate courses as long as they know what the letters stand for.

MGraybosch
01-13-2010, 05:25 AM
What really amazes me is that with all the technology aimed at entertainment – with 3D movies, computers, internet, gaming consoles, hand held games, etc, etc – people still read books. Good old fashioned books – things that were around hundreds of years ago. They still compete.

I've yet to play a videogame whose story offers the same depth of characterization as a novel like The Count of Monte Cristo. Nor have I seen such a movie or TV show.

LuckyH
01-13-2010, 10:45 AM
I read somewhere (probably here on AW) that the reason books are less descriptive than they were 50 or 100 years ago is because nowadays people have visual references to far more environments than they used to, due to television and movies. Even if you've never been to the desert, or a tropical island, or a cliff overlooking the ocean, you've doubtlessly seen one on TV, and thus know what it looks like. This has rendered elaborate setting descriptions unnecessary in most genres (fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction being the exceptions).

And it's true that more exposure to plots in movies and television has made people less fond of boring, old, cliched ideas, but I don't consider this a bad thing. ;)

I find that an interesting observation and agree with most of it; we can’t fail to be affected by the ever-evolving technology. My writing his morning has been halted by an unstoppable curiosity to find out what’s happening in the world. Hard as I tried, the lure of the internet was irresistible.

I’ve looked at stunning pictures of snow-covered landscapes, tried hard to digest why bipolar depression cannot be cured by simple medication, wondered at the folly of hypocritical politicians, and sneaked in a quick game of chess, quick because I sacrificed a noble knight for no reason at all.

Should writers write less because the reader has seen it all on some screen? That’s where I disagree – he hasn’t read your words – and surely, after madly hopping around the internet and killing all his enemies, wouldn’t he like to sit in a quiet corner and be calmed by words? Words that tell a story, but, more importantly, words to be enjoyed?

Sophia
01-13-2010, 05:21 PM
Hard as I tried, the lure of the internet was irresistible. [...]

I’ve looked at stunning pictures of snow-covered landscapes, tried hard to digest why bipolar depression cannot be cured by simple medication, wondered at the folly of hypocritical politicians, and sneaked in a quick game of chess [...] and surely, after madly hopping around the internet and killing all his enemies, wouldn’t he like to sit in a quiet corner and be calmed by words? Words that tell a story, but, more importantly, words to be enjoyed?

I liked your post, because it reminded me that with all this technology and information at our fingertips, we are better able to work out what readers can't get from anywhere else, and put that into our writing. It inspired me quite a lot! :)

lucidzfl
01-13-2010, 07:29 PM
http://yeah-hi.com/files/idk_my_bff_jill.png

RickN
01-13-2010, 09:45 PM
an essay on the form and function of the somatosensory cortex on one of my exams, I had better get the answer in standard English.

[Begin Essay]

I have no idea what you're talking about. Didn't Cortex discover Mexico or something?

[End Essay]

zegota
01-14-2010, 10:16 PM
I've yet to play a videogame whose story offers the same depth of characterization as a novel like The Count of Monte Cristo. Nor have I seen such a movie or TV show.

You need to look more. Maybe not at videogames (as much of a defender of that art form as I am, they haven't reached complete maturity yet), but certainly at films and television.

Also, you kind of cherry picked a great book there. That's like saying movies/tv are superior because nothing there is as bad as The Eye of Argon.

As for the overarching conversation, there's nothing wrong with technology. There's nothing that makes a book inherently better than any other form of media. And, far from the Internet making today's youth a bunch of drooling idiots, basically every study done shows them actually smarter, more literate and more connected because of it. The vast majority of people know when to differentiate between internet speak and a formal essay, and most of the rest of them learn quickly when they get poor grades in English. It's the difference between someone being able to talk with his friends using terminology such as "like," and "dude," but still being able to give a great formal speech.

And English evolving into a mess of a language? Sorry, you'll just have to go with the flow, that's how language works. I gave up after the word "guesstimate" became grammatical.

rhymegirl
01-14-2010, 11:16 PM
I get distracted by everything. When I'm distracted I get distracted from being distracted. Even now I'm distracted. At some point I'm not going to be distracted, and there'll be a thread move to another room. I am distracted though. So it won't happen right away. If only there were less distracted people who weren't always distracted by distracting things, there'd be no distracted people anymore and just one green bottle sitting on the wall.


So, in other words, you're distracted.