Are we raising a generation that cannot write, spell or communicate face to face? Is Facebook to blame?

Have we lost the art of writing?
Have we lost the art of writing?

In 2012, more and more people than ever before are being lured into the world of online social networking and less of social intercourse. Teenagers (including my own) talk more to their friends online than they ever do face to face. Is this something we should be scared about? You better believe it!

The average teenager and young adult coming out into the big wide world from school, college or even university is less equipped than ever before to make it in the employment arena. They are poorly prepared to fulfill their life potential and I blame a lot of it on the social networking phenomena. The rest I blame on the parents, but that’s a whole other hub!

Let me say right up front that I have Facebook and I do use social media. The difference for me is that I came to embrace those mediums after having been taught how to write, spell and talk. Now I am able to use those skills within the framework of social networking.

Let's talk grammar and spelling...

All you need to do is take a look at anyone’s Facebook page from the younger generation and you will see comment after comment after comment that is laced with grammatical errors, poor punctuation and spelling mistakes.

I literally cringe when I read some people’s posts. The blatant abuse of such words as there, their and they’re is rampant. Then there is “its” and it’s” and the list goes on and on. It would seem that the average computer keyboard for most people doesn’t have a “SHIFT” key to facilitate capitalization of letters, nor a “.”, “,”, “;” or even a “?”. Did that last sentence confuse you? Hard to read, but punctuated correctly. Facebook posts just ramble on with no thought to phrasing, sentence structure or punctuation. The users type as they think and often the typing is lagging way behind the thinking so things get missed. You know, unimportant things like letters, commas, periods etc.

How these young people will ever be able to write letters, sales proposals, or even internal staff memos is beyond me.

Then there is writing itself...

Ask any teenager to actually “write” an essay and you will see a look of sheer panic cross their face. The lost art of writing is just that – a lost art. You have to look to people in their 30’s and up to find a demographic of human beings with the ability to write neatly, legibly and usually attractively with cursive writing. Now I understand that the majority of communication from here on in will be via computer and typed, but there is still the hand written love poem, birthday card and letter in a bottle that we have to think about.

Lastly...

Lastly, and most frightening though, is the lack of ability for young people to have honest face-to-face communication with another human.

There is no substitute for looking directly into someone else’s eyes as they are talking to you and watching their face as you are talking to them. The most powerful and honest communication is done non-verbally. You cannot miss the reaction on someone’s face when you share some news with him or her, be it good or bad. If they are a true friend, and genuinely concerned for you, it will tell by their expression. A Facebook comment can never replace compassion shown on the face.

Online there is an ability to be someone that you want others to see rather than the real you. Yes, you can hide things when talking face to face, but it is a lot harder. My relationship with my wife would be very poor if all our communication was done online! To be a part of a relationship, friendship or even just a conversation, I believe there is a need to engage your whole being.

Is my hub going to change this issue? Heck, no! In fact by writing it I am adding to the information highway online. I would suggest that we all stop writing hubs online, put real pen to paper and mail them in envelopes with hand-written addresses on, to all the people with whom we wish to share our hub. It’s hard to type with your tongue so firmly stuck in your cheek you know!

Aaaah, breathe in, and relax. Venting over. Am I the only one who feels this?

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Comments 19 comments

JaneKnowsbest profile image

JaneKnowsbest 4 years ago

I don't think this is a result of Facebook, I think it is a result of society in general. My nieces and nephews have used this bad grammar and spelling for a while, way before they were on facebook. The amazing thing about it is that I know they're educated and actually do know how to spell and use proper grammar.


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

So maybe it's just laziness... an equally scary character trait. If the next generation isn't willing to even take time to check their grammar, will we end up with a society of non-caring, lazy people from which will be selected the next leaders of our countries? Eek! Thanks Jane.


odeisa profile image

odeisa 4 years ago from Anaheim

My nephew says Lookit to shorten 'Look at it'. It's funny. And I agree that it's laziness.


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Yes odeisa, I agree, some things are funny. I don't know how old your nephew is but the same phrase coming from a 32 year old who is running for mayor might seem odd. Sounds crazy, but let's see where we are at in another 10-20 years.


paralegalpro 4 years ago

You know, I cannot make up my mind as to whether I think it is laziness or cultural influence that has produced such a poor communications culture in America. Regardless of its causes, I suspect that we will begin to experience something akin to cultural amnesia when it comes to communicating using proper English. Over time, I doubt we will remember traditional grammar rules and proper spelling. I just cannot imagine what our world be like when that happens.


odeisa profile image

odeisa 4 years ago from Anaheim

@petenali - I didn't know even adults used that word. My nephew is 5 and is in kinder!


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

@paralegalpro - scary indeed.

@odeisa - 5 year old the age I hoped you would say, in which case his comment is indeed 'funny'.

@The Finance Hub - agreed about text messaging. It has the added 'bonus'of being able to kill drivers at the wheel too.


munchwaffle profile image

munchwaffle 4 years ago from Philippines

voted up and interesting... although i wouldn't blame facebook either. sometimes it's just faster to type if the statements are not complete :))


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

I agree that the writing skills of younger generations have suffered tremendously. I agree with the Finance Hub, though; I personally blame texting more than Facebook. The first phones used for texting required more work to get to various letters and somehow, the crappy shorthand commonly used these days fell into vogue.

I recently bought a new car, and I got quotes online. The written responses from one dealership were so awful I actually forwarded them to other writers and editors I've worked with over the years. It looked like the person had responded to my emails on her cell phone. Several words were misspelled repeatedly, which leads me to believe she didn't know how to spell them to begin with. One sentence was at least 100 words long. This was the dealer's idea of presenting a professional image to the public?

Needless to say, I bought the car from another dealership.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I think there are a number of forces at play that are negatively affecting our language skills. Social networking is certainly one of them, but I believe it started with the advent of desktop publishing in the early 80s. DP marketing strategy at the time promised that anyone who could learn the software could also become a writer and publisher. From that moment, professional writers and editors, who are among the "keepers" of language standards, began to fight for their lives. As more and more junk began to be turned out on home computers, expectations of excellence in written communication began to dive. I think what we're seeing today is the result of a total flattening of expectation: It's easy to settle for mediocre or less; after all, if everybody's doing it, why shouldn't I?

Thanks for this interesting reflection on what's wrong with language skills today. Up and interesting.


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

@Sally's Trove - a good insight indeed. Funny you mention "expectation" and "mediocre" - both parts of one of the new hubs I am working on. Appreciate your comments.


trimar7 profile image

trimar7 4 years ago from New York

Petenali - I teach fourth grade and we are standing on our heads, doing back flips and running rampant trying to ensure that these children do know how to write an essay and know the difference between their, there, they're, to, too, two, its and it's and more. Most of my students come out of fourth grade writing essays better than many adults. I have received letters from parents complimenting the progress I make in getting these kids to write and write well. I would say that my colleagues could make the same claim. I have seen and heard the essays their students are writing. I am not insulted by your blog by the way. You make some valid points. I just wanted to let you know educators are trying very hard to ensure that young people are learning the skills they need.


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

@trimar7 - I am standing on my feet applauding you right now for your efforts. Please, please, please don't give up. Thanks for the comment.


smartincome profile image

smartincome 4 years ago from Philippines

Interesting hub petenali! I won't blame facebook. Why? facebook is only a medium to communicate. It is us who keep committing those mistakes. So true, my grammar is not perfect. As a teen, we also need someone to guide us and to correct us. :)


Angelme566 profile image

Angelme566 4 years ago

very very true..for me this new Gadgets are teaching people to be lazy , less in self -reliance , being impatient and many more negative values.

In other aspect also, from my own point of view , yes spelling ,grammar , legibility in writing , good composition are deteriorated at present because of our tech. That's why i think parents needs to check this to their little kids. children must be follow up with their works , think going and teaching to crude and basic ones are effective , what i mean is the reading ,writing and the arithmetic. Anyway , we should not for get , education starts at home..


Jenny C 4 years ago

I don't want to sound pedantic but I actually found a grammatical error in this hub! Note the following:

(They users type as they think) shouldn't this read "The users type as they think"?


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

@Jenny C - thanks for pointing that out.

Kinda like the one in your comment:

(shouldn't believe should be "shouldn't this read"

Thanks for visiting and have a great day!


Crazzykylex profile image

Crazzykylex 4 years ago from Incredible India!

Yes, I agree with you, petenali. No doubt, Facebook is one of the causes. Mostly teens use words like 'ew' instead of 'you' just to tell how 'kewl' they 're. No proper spellings and grammar, says they don't care a fig about English. Moreover, the use of shortcuts makes me hard to understand and even misleads the sentence making me total confused. For example, I can't cum now! lol


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

U r so rite Crazzy!

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