Is Twitter and Facebook Making You Stupid? Or, Is Reading The Telegraph?

Newspapers and magazines are going the way of the dinosaur, while blogging and “citizen journalism” are quickly taking over the space they once occupied.  More traditional media is not adapting fast enough, but perhaps a lot of it is just plain due to sloppy reporting.

The most recent example was just a couple of days ago.  Perhaps you remember the flap a couple of years back about “How the Internet is making us stupid”.  Recently, the same publication, The Telegraph, ran a similar type of piece on how the “Art of essay-writing damaged by Twitter and Facebook, Cambridge don warns”.

Even pupils from top ranking schools who have won places to study at elite universities now struggle to master the English language when writing, according to Professor David Abulafia.

He cited Twitter, which limits messages to just 140 characters, for leading to “very compressed” language, which ignored the rules of grammar and encourages users to leave out personal pronouns, articles and punctuation.

The scary part is that some students are reverting to “text language” even on exams!

Oddly enough, the article goes on to to say that one teachers union has actually claimed “that ‘memory skills and essay writing’ are ‘not crucial skills for life today’.”  I don’t know how anyone representing teachers could say that with a straight face.

Yet, when you get to the end of the article, it shows again why The Telegraph is becoming much less of a reliable source than it once was for real news.  The “examples of poor writing” at the end of the article are hardly convincing.  While they may be “examples of poor writing”, they are poor examples of how Twitter may be causing it.  There isn’t any real “text language” in the examples at all.

It actually seems quite a leap to start blaming Twitter or Facebook, and why no real mention of SMS?  Could it be because it is just more bogus scapegoating and even more bogus journalism?  As the Brits would say, “It’s rubbish!”

Is it any wonder why blogs are taking over while traditional institutions are fading into obscurity?