Friday, June 18, 2010

How has technology affected conversation arts, journaling, and formal letter writing and why does it matter?

by Djene Keita,

This is my reflection on one of the study questions about" Language and Communication" in the Honors Study Guide.

 The Human species develops language to communicate and express thoughts. Among the many ways of communicating such as body language, spoken language is  singularly used by the humans and, that has distinguished our specie from other species living on the earth. The emergence of technology in the 17th century and its ongoing evolution has significantly improved our lifes and the figure of the world.  Thanks to technology, a huge progress has been made in different aspects of life. The creation of Internet, Television, Cell phones, etc… has brought convenience and added luxury to our life style. Consequently, communication has become easier and the use of spoken language has diminished.  Although technology has had a significant impact on our lifes, it is essential to point out that its evolution has also been a drawback in the advancement  of language and communication in our society.

As technology continues to widely spread throughout the world, electronics mean of communication has substituted verbal language. Emails and text messages have become the one primary ways of communicating for our generation. Thus, conservation arts, journalism, and formal writing are being left behind. Previously,the younger generations had  been the major group mostly engrossed by the magic of technology; however, the older generations has also adopted these new ways for communication. Whether it is in school, offices and even on the road, it is commonplace to see people of all age texting or sending emails via electronic advices. This has not only raised concerns because of the many car accidents and health issues linked to them but also, because of the effect it is having on language and communication. Unaware of the consequences of constantly using emails and text messages instead language, many people in today’s society prefer texting and emailing rather than actually  speaking with other people. One of my friends told me, “I like texting now rather than having speaking over the phone. When texting, I do not have to write complete words or sentences; I just use abbreviations. It is fast and easy.” Nevertheless, this is impeding the development of language and writing skills .The ability to learn to be a good speaker can only be developed if one practices speaking by having conversation with other. Texting and emailing therefore stand as barriers that prevent one from developing those skills. Many college professors complain about the inability of college students to use formal writing in their papers. This is a challenging problem to solve because, many of us are used to writing informally when sending text messages and emails.  We use “gonna” instead of “going to” and we love abbreviations such as “b4, abt, 2nite, lol,  ASAP” etc…The use these abbreviations prevents us from learning  correct spellings and hinders our ability to become strong writers. Likewise, the meaning of the information can be easily changed through the use of electronics as a mean for communication. when typing too fast on the keyboard, we often commit typographical errors and write something that we do not intend to write. This is  also  a contributing  factor that modifies the meaning of the information that is being transmitted.

If technology such as email and texting continue to outshine verbal language as a form of communication, many languages such as English, French, Spanish and others will suffer as a result.


  1. I also think there are some positive effects too. Texting and twitting help us to communicate more faster than actually calling somebody. Its a fast world so every second counts. Although I agree with your point about the conversation art. You can't tell your professor brb/lol. Thats just disrespectful.

  2. Nice reflection Djene

  3. I agree with you that tweeting and texting permit us to communicate faster. However, texting and tweeting also do not really give us enough space to completely express ourselves. we are limited and consequently, the information sent might not be complete or might be misunderstood.
    Don't you think those factors shape the information communicated and that the fact of actually speaking to others might be better?

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  5. completely agree with you. Not only does texting, tweeting and emailing make us lazy with our language use and spelling it also makes us lazy in relationships. Instead of taking the time to visit or at least call someone on their b-day, we send a text with a happy face. yes, it's conveniant but conveniance shouldn't always be the top priority. I once had someone text me an ridiculous it that??

  6. I am no expert in this, but I believe all forms of language tend to veer towards its most simple form. I believe this, in part, due to the way Traditional Chinese gave way to Simplified Chinese. To this date, I believe TC is so much richer, and the characters are so much more meaningful and aesthetically more appealing. However, simplified chinese is the one that will survive in time. The reverse (Languages becoming more complex) can happen too, but only when there is an explicit need that the current form of language can't satisfy. With this example, I try to say that it is only normal for people to start using abbreviations in text messages and tweets; doing so gets the message across in an easier manner.

    Coming back to the way that technology changed communication and language, I totally understand all the negative effects on society today. Hilarious and sometimes lamentable things are happening, such as people breaking up with their couples over text messages, etc. But I do not think it is something we should be worrying about. For example, formal letter writing is and will be (I believe) an essential survival tool for anyone in business, academia, and any other field of human interaction. If many young people do not know how to write such a letter, it is because they did not have the need to learn yet. It is true that in the past people used to learn formal letter writing skills during the day to day interactions with colleagues and friends, but one also has to account for the fact that it was only the minority who could afford an education.

    Another topic you mentioned was verbal communication. I personally grew up talking to friends over the phone for hours at times. This seldom happens with the advent of today’s technology. But again, I do not think that well spoken people, with the ability to express themselves fluently, will cease to exist ever. I do not even believe it will diminish due to the new technologies. Just think about it; when we speak to friends on the phone, we do not pay attention to the formality of our language. We use slangs, and care only about getting the message across. Talking more has nothing to do with being a better speaker, I believe.

    There are, however, multiple benefits to these new technologies. This existence of this blog, for instance, is one of them. In the past, you would need a printing press to publish any kind of articles, journals, or writings. Anyway, I will finish it here. This is getting way to long. If you have read all that I wrote, you are officially awesome.

  7. and I also think I used the words "I believe" and "I think" way too many times. See what was I saying about more not = to better?

  8. I have to partly disagree with you Luis because you are mostly based on the power part of technology on language and communication. You should also consider the negative effects of new technology on the life the next generations.

  9. Actually, Luis has provided a timely counter-balance to the conversation on the effects of technology on communication. Renown psychologist, Steven Pinker, recently wrote about the misleading panic over how technology is reducing our brain power. He concludes that "[f]ar from making us stupid, these technologies are the only things that will keep us smart" ( We may not agree with Pinker, but it's necessary to engage with different perspectives like his and the ones raised in Luis's post.


What do you think?