|Tush tush! A pox upon the texting|
habits of our posterity!
The simple answer to this question is “No”; contemporary young people (and their older adult counterparts who routinely butcher English virtually) are not going to ruin our language – at least not entirely – with their lazy acronyms, painfully poor spelling, and lack of any penchant for proofreading. In the end, the real cost is not to the language itself as much as it is to their own personal and professional credibility. To the extent that they persist in these habits, they tarnish their personal image and minimize their potential for professional advancement in the modern workplace.
|Pope wrote that hope springs eternal;|
May it be so for your texting diurnal.
If I am to be proven right in purporting the perpetual maintenance of what one might call “High Language,” or at very least, “Professional Speak,” then trainers and other educators must play a vital role. Moreover, if the rising generation is to effectively make the vital transition from “Teenage Texter to Polished Professional Communicator,” a very real “Evolution in the Classroom” must occur to match the seeming language evolution that mirrors the troubled text and instant messaging quagmire in which many young professionals (and others) find themselves mired.
In truth, the only thing that is self-evident is that much of the communicating public could use a LOT of training when it comes to communication of all kinds, and perhaps especially so when it comes to the compositions that many create most often: text and instant messages. To remedy this self-evident societal sickness and persistent professional problem, I suggest three primary premises serve as a pedagogical foundation to any effective text or instant messaging educational initiative. And the good news is that these same premises apply to other, longer forms of written communication.
Premise 1: Inscrutable text has no value
I often wonder how many billions of dollars are lost in time and resources every single year in America and beyond for no other reason than that a preventable miscommunication has occurred. All communication counts! Don’t be lazy in carefully organizing and dutifully reviewing each message you decide to craft for another, be it for an individual, small group, or large audience.
Premise 2: Editing and proofreading are paramount—not perfunctory—even for text and instant messages.
Carl Sederholm, a college professor of mine at Brigham Young University, once told my English class: “You never finish a document; you stop writing.” Dr. Sederholm is correct. Unlike math equations and science questions, there is rarely just one right answer when you are writing. Furthermore, you could theoretically continue making adjustments to any document forever! As such, there is usually a point in time where you must “stop writing” and choose to turn your document in. In the meantime, it is wise to spend as much time editing and proofreading as would be both practical and prudent. It will take more time up front on your part to do this; but oh the time it can save you—and others—down the road if you will do it!
Premise 3: Short messages can be just as important as lengthy communications.
It is true that it will take more time to effectively edit and properly proofread a 20-page proposal or a 200-page book than a 2-page email or 2-paragraph text message. In addition, the time I devote to editing and proofreading is typically commensurate to the importance of the document (in consideration of all the stakes involved). Nevertheless, I rarely, if ever, hit my “Send” button until I have done at least one or two editing and proofreading reviews—no matter how long or short the document.
I encourage ALL educators to apply these premises in your own communication practices until they become an unconscious habit on your part. By so doing, you will become a good example to your students, thus empowering you to better teach and model the cultivation of the same premises in their communication habits—and especially with regards to text and instant messaging. As you – and they – so do, the maintenance and perpetuation of the beautiful, elegant, and rich English language will be preserved for generations to come. And in the short run, everyone will save time and money while avoiding unnecessary confusion, stress, and heartache as we send and receive messages that are clear, concise, cogent, and let us not forget—kind—a topic for another day.
In closing, there are some fantastic articles online that provide additional, concrete tips for improving your text and/or instant messaging practices. Here are four I would recommend:
Frankola, K. (2015). Has Instant Messaging Become More Annoying Than Email? 5 Steps for More Productive Pinging. HuffPost Business. Posted 10 May 2015. URL: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-frankola/has-instant-messaging-become-more-annoying-than-email-5-steps-for-more-productive-pinging_b_6815700.html
Maher, K. (2004). The Dangers of Using Instant Messaging at Work. The Wall Street Journal (Online). Posted 5 October 2004. URL: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB109692934259135827
Simpson, M. (2013). 12 Tips for Using Instant Messaging. Matt Simpson Blog. 10 April 2013. URL: https://matthewsimpson.com/12-helpful-tips-for-using-instant-messaging-in-workplace/
Twelve Tips for Instant Messaging in the Workplace. Training and Consulting in International Business Protocol and Social Etiquette. Posted 1 June 2014. URL: http://www.advancedetiquette.com/2014/06/12-tips-for-instant-messaging-in-the-workplace/
What is the Difference Between Editing and Proofreading?
The terms “Editing” and “Proofreading” are often used together or interchangeably. This practice perpetuates the mistaken notion that they are synonyms. In fact, they are different pursuits that are both very important. The difference is that editing involves content while proofreading in concerned with mechanics. In shorthand, we can write:
Editing = Content and Proofreading = Mechanics
Editing involves checking a document for completeness and accuracy. It also includes examining a sentence, paragraph, section, chapter, or document’s organization, syntax (word ordering), tone, and flow. Proofreading, on the other hand, involves checking for capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
The 3 (Three) C's of Good Writing: Clarity, Concision, and Cogency
All effective written compositions possess two or three fundamental elements. These elements are clarity and concision, and in cases where persuasion is a priority, cogency as well. Clarity begs the question: “Is my writing clear and easy to understand?” Concision begs the question: “Have I stated my message as briefly as possible without using any unnecessary words?” Cogency begs the question: “Will my writing be compelling and/or persuasive to my audience?” After finishing any piece of writing, regardless of the length, if you can honestly look it over and say with confidence: “This composition is clear, concise, and cogent,” then you are ready to turn your work in.
About the Author
|Dr. Jordan R. Jensen|
To buy Jordan's new book, click HERE.