Txt msgs and intrnt abbrvs bad for society

By Sarah Khalil

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Every day of my life, I sign onto AIM in hopes of chatting with a few of my friends. Things will go smoothly for about five minutes, until someone responds with the inevitable ridiculous abbreviation or smiley face. According to those I speak to, I must be quite the entertainer. The phrase “LOL” has become as common as “hey.”

The current fad of internet lingo, emoticons and texting abbreviations leaves me asking the age-old question “WTF?” I constantly wonder why today’s youth feels the need to shorten words, phrases and even human emotions. Are kids really that lazy? Or has this phenomenon caused them to lose their ability to express themselves on a deeper level? The world may never know.

I can only suggest that this language regression is taking a negative toll on society. While some view internet slang as a harmless form of quick communication, I find the habit to be damaging to society, and not to mention extraordinarily irritating. I fail to see how diminishing the English language could possibly be beneficial. Even if it does save time to shorten words, what valuable activities are we doing instead of conversing with each other?

Dr. David Crystal, author of Language and the Internet, is one of the many supporters of our newly abbreviated world. He claims “It shows language expanding richly in all sorts of directions.” I am not an expert, but the last time I checked, shortening an entire phrase into three or four letters was not an expansion. I shudder to think what greater effects this situation may have on the public. A theory called “technological determinism” has been developed to decipher exactly what these effects may be. Researchers have conducted interviews with high school teachers and college professors to discover if abridged communication is causing positive or negative results in the classroom. Their answers were not surprising. Lower-level students have begun to use inappropriate shorthand in their writing, and college professors fear an increase in cheating due to the Internet savvy generation of today.

But besides the daunting fact that the future leaders of America are growing up as slackers and cheaters, I feel that it is necessary to note that they will not even feel guilty about it. If young people are incompetent to articulate even the simplest emotions, I’m sure that they would feel no need to justify Internet slang’s coalescence into non-Internet activities.

In reference to these emotions (or lack thereof), I hardly think that a smiley face or a frowning face can accurately express the complex emotions people feel throughout a conversation. Or can they? Perhaps today’s society has degenerated to the point that it can only feel happy or sad. A horrible thought. :-(

But I must give credit to Web sites out there like windweaver.com/emoticon, which features hundreds of different emoticons for the young text messenger to explore. Unfortunately for those interested in expressing themselves on a more multifaceted level, no one will understand that @:{)=== conveys a “Sikh turban with a long beard.” Explaining the emoticon would contradict its purpose of condensing anyway; so most people just stick with happy and sad.

In addition to this inability to show true feeling, each generation appears to have increased difficulties confronting people. It is easier to hide behind the computer and e-mail than it is to speak to someone in person. Texting has contributed to this problem, causing the kids of today to prefer the written word to the spoken word. It is definitely easier to put something in writing, because it is devoid of shades of meaning and tone of voice. But while this method may be less intimidating, it loses the human aspect that has always been present in communication.

Recently, my father narrowly avoided a car accident with a texting driver. He denoted how dangerous it was to text and drive at the same time and attempted to improve the system.

Thinking he was the smartest man alive, he suggested the invention of a voice-activated texting system, in which there would be no need to look down at the screen. To which I replied, “That’s called a phone call.”

So the next time someone shoots an “LOL” my way, I’m saying “TTYL.”