Texting, tweeting, typing: Those of us born between 1980 and 2000 are known (and criticized) for our social media habits.
But what do these supposed time-wasters all have in common? Writing.
Whether it’s a tweet, blog post, text message or status update, our generation is pumping out more words, and words per minute, than ever before, according to an article on Globe and Mail by Clive Thompson.
Although our parents would hate to admit it, Millennials are only becoming more literate. These everyday activities are actually having a positive effect on the way we think and write.
An October 2009 study by Stanford University professor Andrea Lunsford comparing a random sample of the writing from incoming college freshman of today to similar writing from the past century show that the former are longer, more developed and contain intellectual complexity beyond expectations.
I’ll write 140 characters to that!
Lunsford calls this “life writing” — the blogs and tweets sprawled across the Internet are examples of today’s youth “tackling the kinds of issues that require inquiry and investigation as well as reflection.”
Go figure: your rants about Miley Cyrus or “Breaking Bad” may just be a part of developing a smarter, more eloquent generation. With so many platforms for free-flow writing, young people are able to develop opinionated views that get us to think deeper and more intellectually.
These increases are, in part, attributed to the ever-so-consistent relationship between the young of today and their trusty phones.
Seldom without some technological device, the average Millennial sends about 20 text messages a day and 80 percent claim to sleep next to their phones, according to statistics reported byDigiday. While these habits may seem like weaknesses, these statistics seem to show that the Millennial generation is full of better and faster writers.
Texting is of second nature to us, and contrary to our elders’ beliefs, the “LOL”s and “OMG”s don’t cross over into the academic setting as often as one might have assumed.
While there are still some assumptions that social media encourages more casual language and doesn’t involve enough academic writing, the lines between professionalism and everyday conversation are not completely clear. Compositions can still be more developed and insightful than those of generations past, despite the prevalence of “textism.”
Research has finally caught on to the ever-so-prevalent sarcastic wit of today’s youths, thanks to University of Toronto linguist Sali Tagliamonte. Tagliamonte points out that sometimes the use of “textisms,” what we might call “chat speak” or “text speak,” are not a force of habit but are intentional wit.
I know, it’s hard to believe that we may be smarter than we look, but don’t worry: We’ll keep tweeting to remind you.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org