The Demise of the English Language

Sam Chapman

Let me preface by acknowledging that I idealize the past; it’s fallacious to assume that bygone days saw the meanest peasants talking like Shakespearean dukes. That said, I believe social media is hastening the demise of artful language.

Language is the glue that holds society together––body language and tone of voice have their place, but communicating anything complex without words is impossible. We rely so heavily on our language that to treat it as utilitarian is akin to issuing an edict requiring buildings to look identical. It’s no way to live.

We must speak clearly and playfully, for that makes us human; we must write from our hearts and minds, for that makes us individuals. Social media encourages the opposite: take a thought, omit consideration of syntax, then add contrived memes and colloquialisms to castrate nuance and compress words into an unnecessary character limit.

The language of Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk is digestible, bland and uniform, and has a nasty habit of seeping into real life. I’d like to subvert the problem by staying offline, but that no longer seems to be an option. Leaving aside the fact that I’ll apparently wind up destitute without LinkedIn, one can’t seem to do anything these days without social media poking its nose in. If you want to overthrow a dictator, you’d better make an event for his ouster––and don’t expect the rhetoric that accompanied revolutions of old.

I’m no reactionary; I’m willing to accept that social media is going to be the backbone of life from now on. But as long as we’re stuck with it, let’s have some fun, and introduce real language to a new platform. I challenge everybody who reads this to post a paragraph as their next Facebook status. It’s not hard, and who knows––maybe we’ll start a revolution.