Communication has been one of the most fundamental pillars of human

interaction. Indeed, it is the one thing that joins together animals
within specific groups, and separates them from other animals. It goes
without saying that communication and its varied aspects and features
are always changing depending on the environment and the demands with
which such environment comes. However, what separates human
communication from the communication in animals of other species is its
specificity, completeness, orderliness and dynamism that allows for
elasticity and flexibility in different times, environments, age groups
and even classes of people. Indeed, human communication has undergone a
paradigm shift since the entry of technological advancements that aid
communication (Yates 30). This is especially with regard to the entry of
mobile telephony and the internet or social networks that have allowed
for more convenience and speed in communication. Needless to say, almost
every form of communication today is pegged on these two technological
inventions.
This may, essentially, be the reason why there has been increased
attention on the effects of this mode of communication on the
established languages. This is especially considering that every mode of
communication comes with its own principles, structures, modes and
words, which is the case for modes of communication that involve mobile
telephony and internet (collectively referred to as computer mediated
communication or CMC) (Yates 30). On the same note, computer mediated
communication entails a considerably high level of sophistication as far
as technology is concerned, in which case it tends to limit certain
categories of people from using it (Squires 459). Of course, every
person understands that these modes of communication come with a high
level of efficiency, speed and convenience of communication, which would
essentially underline their high intake, not only in the business world,
but also within the social structures (Palfreyman and Muhamed 13).
Nevertheless, the technological requirements tend to place restrictions
or limitations on the usage of this technology on particular classes of
people or even different age groups. This would essentially mean that
there are variations in the usage of technology among different age
groups and classes (Squires 459). On the same note, there have been
concerns as to the fact that the different classes of people or age
groups come with different communications styles and patterns. Indeed,
individuals in the older age groups are bound to be stuck in the
conventional techniques of communication and would essentially be more
formal in their communication patterns. While they still use new
technological innovations to enhance their communication, they are still
essentially fixated on using the conventional grammatical rules and
styles so as to pass their messages.
In essence, this paper is built on two notions. First, it is built on
the notion that texting and social media communications come with their
own linguistic rules that allow it to operate as a subcultural language.
Indeed, texting and social media messaging comes with dynamic rules that
one would need to know so as to have a clear understanding of the
language used in these forums or modes of communication. In this case,
the paper aims at examining how much these modes of communication meet
the parameters or the set characteristics of a culture or subculture.
Its features and dynamism would be examined and placed within the
context of the characteristics of a subculture or culture.
Theoretical framework
While this paper is not limited to the social mechanisms pertaining to
linguistic change, it examines this aspect and notes the differences
that early scholars have outlined between two different mechanisms for
studying linguistic change (Squires 459). However, it mainly
concentrates on the second approach that is mainly associated with
contemporary quantitative sociolinguistics. The key objective would be
the specification of the process by which languages and their varied
modes are passed from one state to another with regard to social
processes that are involved, as well as the effect that such processes
have on linguistic structures pertaining to a given change (Squires
459).
This paper borrows heavily from early scholars who attempted to apply
the “wave model” to modern data. Nevertheless, it is well
established that the variability pertaining to a regular and structured
type is a feature of the usage of normal language and comes as a
fundamental aspect to the comprehension of mechanisms pertaining to
linguistic change (Squires 459). Scholars have noted that change, at the
phonological level, affects contextually defined subsets pertaining to
phonological classes in a considerably regular way and goes on to spread
in the community in waves in a way that is controlled or regulated by
other extra-linguistic factors like sex, age, social status, as well as
the speaker’s geographical location (Shortis 56). On the same note,
scholars have characterized the linguistic change as waves that affect
one class of words at a time. It is definitely predictable that the
items that lag behind in the change or shift come as stylistic variants
in the speech attributed to older informants (Ferrara et al 19). These
scholars have argued that the phonological rules should be written in a
manner that reveals the pattern.
In instances where the choices of languages (that are open to an
individual) are placed within the broader context, they would
essentially be seen as reflecting “later’ and earlier” overlapping
states pertaining to a dynamic or changing phonological system (Ferrara
et al 19). The ability of a variable rule formalist to undertake and
deal with linguistic constraints pertaining to the implementation of
such a rule would essentially be characterizing or typifying successive
change “waves” (Crystal 67). In essence, it would be argued that a
person’s language behavior would have a relationship with the
historical modifications of rules that reflect the speaker’s or
writer’s competence whose linguistic choices range would be congruent
with the change waves that regularly proceed through space and time
(Shortis 56). This essentially would underline the general notion that
is expressed in this paper. As much as individuals using texting and
social media channels of communications would essentially be in
different age groups and classes, the “wave model” shows that their
communication can be put in a broader context that would show the
different age-groups of the writers or even speakers.
Literature review
Numerous social scientists have examined the subject of computer
mediated communication and done comprehensive research on the manner in
which it impacts on the contemporary writing and speech discourse
(Blommaert 45). Scholars have noted that all networked writing such as
texting and social media communication is undertaken on digital
technologies that allow for public or private, near-synchronous or
asynchronous exchange between groups and people on varied platforms and
applications (Crystal 67). As much as these technologies allow for
varied categories of written communication including institutionally
framed, subject oriented and carefully drafted texts, prototypical
networked writing revolves around four fundamental conditions. First,
this category of writing is vernacular with regard to the fact that it
is some form of non-institutional writing that goes beyond professional
and educational control (Thurlow 214). Secondly, prototypical networked
writing is relationship and interpersonal focused and not
subject-oriented. Third, such writing is, more often than not,
spontaneous and unplanned in nature. Lastly, prototypical networked
writing takes up an interaction and dialogical-oriented nature, coming
with expectations pertaining to persistent exchange.
However, it is worth noting that this prototype did not entirely come
with computer mediated communication (Thurlow 214). Indeed, researchers
have noted that these properties outlined the framework for a prototype
for a new form of writing, which initially materialized at the period
before web applications such as newsgroups, chat channels, and personal
emails before they were carried on to forums, instant messaging and
texting (Thurlow 214). The written language that is influenced by these
properties captured the imagination and interest of researchers from an
early age, with virtually every discussion on the modification of
language through and in digital media examining networked writing
(Blommaert 45).
Nevertheless, computer mediated communication has for some time gone
beyond these conditions with the relevant literature incorporating
numerous discrepancies with regard to contemporary and early accounts,
empirical evidence and visionary scenarios (Blommaert 45). In 1991, a
German linguist called Sigurd Wichter stated that as much as the history
of digital technology was yet to be written, there was a high
probability that the new developments would get to the consequences
pertaining to the printing press at the start of the tele-communications
technologies or modern era at the beginning of the 20th century (Crystal
67). Such predictions usually come up in public discourse, with the main
motivation for the regular dystopian versions being the concerns that
the language used in internet is corrupting the manner in which
individuals craft conventional writing or even speak one-on-one (Baron
176). However, they scholars noted that such concerns were considerably
uncommon in literature on internet linguistic as the phenomenon is
significantly recent that very little would have happened. Public
discourse, in some instances, raises the effects that digital media has
on languages. However, from the viewpoint of a research, internet and
computer mediated communication have been said to have little impact on
interpersonal communication.
Social Media and Texting: Conceptualizing the Distortion of Traditional
Rules of Writing and Differences in Spelling
Deviation from Conventional Rules
Numerous studies have generally agreed that written language’s
grapheme structure gains importance as a linguistic variation level in
Computer Mediated Communications. Indeed, scholars have argued that
networked writing differs with the conventional sociolinguistic
assumptions pertaining to the notion that spelling is the most invariant
linguistic structure level. On the same note, some observations
pertaining to this effect have concentrated on the deviation from or
conformity to orthographic norms. Scholars note that Computer Mediated
Communication and mobile texting heightens insecurities pertaining to
spelling, as well as tolerance to typos, which may be reinterpreted as
results of speedy text production and not indications of deficiency of
competence. Writers, to represent vernacular and written forms, shorten
the message or simulate prosody must handle spelling in a manner that
goes further that normative orthography. The necessity of undertaking
contextualization work with written materiality of language, coupled
with the deficiency of institutional control, drives networked writers
to examine gaps between non-standard and standard representations, as
well as take advantage of the polyvalence pertaining to graphemephoneme
correspondence inherent in a large number of orthographic systems in
subversive, evocative and playful ways. This results in a uniquely
visual variability that borrows from the variation in normative
orthography instead of representation of spoken variation.
Underlining the immense modification of the traditional rules of
language and writing is the April 2010 case where the informal online
communication of individuals that are internet savvy collided with the
austere and conventional language that is used in the court room. At
this time, Christopher Poole, who is the founder of the radical image
message board called 4Chan, was called to testify in the court room in a
case where a man had been accused of hacking the email account of Sarah
Palin. During the case, Mr. Poole was asked to provide a definition for
a catalogue of internet slang that was evidently lost on lawyers but was
extremely familiar to a large number of individuals online. Scholars did
not see this as surprising at all rather they noted that the internet
has quickly become an incredible medium for languages. Indeed, they
noted that as much as change in language comes slowly, the internet in
general and social media in particular has accelerated the process by
which individuals notice the changes. Indeed, individuals in social
media are always using word play so as to form groups, as well as
impress their friends. They compare this activity with local skate parks
where one can see kids show their expertise through making skateboards
to undertake wonderful things, with the only difference being that when
using social media or texting, individuals show their brilliance through
the manipulation of the internet language.
On the same note, English speakers may examine the varied cult websites
that have been devoted to cult dialects (Danet and Herring 34). This
essentially involves a deliberate distortion of the spelling rules of
English language, as well as rules pertaining to grammar. In this case,
terms such as “LOLcat” are a common feature, which involves a
deliberately grammatically incorrect and phonetic caption accompanying a
picture of a picture, alongside a “Leetspeak” where some letters
would be replaced with numbers emanating from a programming code.
Researchers have noted that there exists more than a dozen of such games
created by geeks who are into playing language games (Danet and Herring
37). It is worth noting, however, that these games are clever little
developments that are limited to a particular group of people. On the
same note, the popularity of these games emanates from the fact that
they are fashionable at this time, which, essentially, creates doubts as
to the possibility that they will be in existence 50 years from now.
One modification of language that has undoubtedly been overhyped is
what is popularly known as text-speak, which incorporates a combination
of usually vowel-free acronyms and abbreviations. As much as researchers
have opined that only 10% of words in a typical or average texts are not
written in full, it goes without saying that a large percentage of texts
incorporate or are essentially text-speaks. It is not difficult to have
messages that have texts such as TMI, OMG or ITMA, which are acronyms
that stand for “Too Much Information”, “Oh My God”, and
“It’s That Man Again” respectively (Smyk-Bhattacharjee 72). While
people may get extremely angry at the use of these words and wonder
whether they belong to the established paradigms of the English
language, it is worth noting that such distortions of the English
language have always been there, especially considering that acronyms
such as TTFN (ta ta for now) was used in the 1940s’ radio series
called “It’s That Man Again”. This, however, does not undermine
the significant impact that technological advancement has had on
language especially with regard to social media and texting in the last
one decade.
The Dynamism of the Social Media and Texting Language
In addition, social media communication and texting has introduced an
entirely new collection of words. For example, it is not difficult to
come across the verb, “to Google”, which essentially underlines
looking something up in search engines, or even the noun “app”,
which is used in describing programs used in Smartphones. These terms
have not only been recently invented but have also been popularized in
the digital age, thanks to the use of social media networking and
texting (Tagliamonte and Denis 16). On the same note, words have been
given an entirely new meaning with the entry of these modes of
communication, with scholars noting that it is more common to come
across the hijacking of phrases and words that are already use. For
example, the phrases “social networking” came up in the 70’s
thanks to OED. It is defined as the establishment or utilization of
social connections or networks. However, this no longer is the case with
the recent times resulting in the overhauling of the meaning of the word
to link it to internet-based activities. Other terms such as
“wireless” in the past meant a radio, something that has completely
changed in the recent times with scholars noting that rarely do people
talk of radios as wireless (despite the fact that they are, in fact,
wireless) unless, of course, an individual is making an attempt at being
ironic or he belongs to a certain generation. Indeed, such words have
been given an entirely new significance (Smyk-Bhattacharjee 74).
As much as the use of social media and texting is slightly less
in-your-face, it has also changed the words that individuals use in
speaking to each other rather than just the way that individuals choose
to communicate (Gorham 320). The obsession that individuals have with
the internet and text messaging influences the relatively simple way of
taking out loud in real life (or rather IRL as is commonly known).
Varied neologisms, acronyms, as well as abbreviations have been
incorporated into everyday speech, to such an extent that if someone
said something like “OMG, why did he do that? Obvi, I will have to
unfriend him”, a large number of people would undoubtedly know what
the individual means although they would feel bad at how annoying the
individual would be. Space-saving emoticons and truncated turns of
phrase are considered relatively mainstream as people have taken to
online communication, as well as the use of text messaging. It is not
rare to hear someone say something like “I re-tweeted James the GIF
link. SMH.” SMH would, of course, have to be verbalized by saying the
entire phrase “shaking my head”. However, this sentence comes as an
indicator of the different ways in which the texting and the internet in
general or social media in particular has been influencing language. On
the same note, the use of the term “re-tweet” indicates the manner
in which individuals have been adapting the English language around a
collection of new technological concepts (Ito and Sali 97). Scholars
have noted that social networking site, twitter, came up with the idea
of “re-tweeting” as an action, but individuals have informally
inculcated it as a verb in their vocabularies (Gorham 327). This is
something that occurs from time to time in instances where new features
come up online. For example, Facebook came up with ideas such as
friending, and liking, while other social networking sites introduced
things like “icing”, “trolling”, “flapping” and
“rickrolling”, all of which may be lost on the mainstream English
language as they mean an entirely different thing from the mainstream
meaning.
Underlining the immense change that has been visited upon the English
language by the social media is a blog post by Oxford Dictionaries where
it highlighted the manner in which Facebook has come up with new phases
and words and incorporated them in the lexicon while giving the familiar
words a slightly different nuance. In this case, the words that an
individual would choose to use in his or her conversation would
undoubtedly give the impression that the individual is living a
logged-in life. As an example, it is not difficult to come across words
such as “wall”, “status”, “profile”, “tag”, or even
“poke” (May 2). These bear an entirely new meaning from what they
used to mean in the English language. It would not have been surprising
for an individual to be seen as talking gibbering in the 70’s and the
early 90’s if he or she said something like “Why did you post that
picture on my wall” or “why did you like my status?” (May 3).
These statements would have meant an entirely different thing from what
they mean today. Linguist Ben Zimmerman also calls for attention to the
semantic shift that has been occurring to the acronym LOL. He noted that
the acronym’s original humorous connotation has been eventually toned
down and can be considered as having disappeared entirely. Indeed, other
scholars have noted that LOL is currently used as a way of showing that
a message is supposed to be funny or as an indicator if irony. It may
also come as a way of acknowledging that an individual has gotten the
message, which would come off as a written version of acknowledging with
a nod of one’s head and a smile. This not underlines the changes that
have been visited upon the English language by the entry of text
messaging and social media communications, but also the divorcing of the
internet-speak from the original meaning with words that were used in
one way in the initial years of internet and social media entry taking
on an entirely new definition.
However, as much as text speak and the internet have pervaded the daily
conversations, some scholars have noted that individuals tend to
overstate the influence that technological advancements such as Facebook
and SMS have on the English language (Herring 12). Indeed, scholars feel
that it is still too early for any person to insinuate that the internet
has any influence on the English language especially considering that it
has been around for around 2 decades. They insinuate that significant or
permanent modification of language would take a little longer to
operate. In addition, they underline the difficulty (or rather the
folly) of trying to make predictions of the impact that such modes of
communication on the English language quoting other technological
advancements such as broadcasting in the 1920’s, which ushered in all
types of new styles like news-reading and sports commentary. They note
that such things would not undertake a serious rearrangement of a
language, rather they would simply inculcate new styles, as well as
extend the expressive richness of the language. This is the same case
that the scholars see as happening to the English language after the
entry of social media and text-speak. It would simply provide new
techniques of supplementing the English language rather than supplant or
seriously disrupt it (Herring 13). While these modes of communication
may have a minimalist impact on the manner in which individuals speak,
the same may not be said in the case of written word. This is especially
considering that the internet and SMS are predominantly a graphic
medium, in which case the changes would occur in the written word rather
than in speech. Indeed, there have come in some incredible novel
formalities in orthography including the use of emoticons and
punctuation minimalism (Herring 14). These impacts have, however, been
minimalist as far as speech is concerned as a large number of people
speak in more or less the same way as they used to do prior to the
arrival of the internet.
Nevertheless, scholars have noted that despite the changes that could
be attributed to the entry of internet and text messaging, the location
of modification of language in digital media is not really in the
influence that new media language has on other domains of spoken or
written usage, rather it is in the processes of change and innovation in
the digital written usage (Tagliamonte and Denis 18). On the same note,
what may be considered as new in the new media language would not just
be the varied innovative structures and constructions, rather they are
the new strategies and resources pertaining to the production of written
language and making of meaning. In addition, the influence that internet
has had is not fundamentally the acceleration of the processes
pertaining to modification of language that are autonomous to or prior
to it, rather it is the development of digital writing as a creative and
new communication domain that is at stake. This has resulted in the
argument that networked writing questions the sufficiency of spoken
language bias and feature-based approach that have essentially been the
dominant conceptions of change of language in sociolinguistics. This
underlines the necessity of coming up with an inclusive and alternative
conceptualization that does not look into linguistic change but examines
the sociolinguistic change and incorporates the processes of
language-ideological and repertoire change without separating language
from its mediation and materiality. In this regard, the modification of
language in digital media essentially elaborates vernacular writing.
Scholars have noted that people are engaging more in writing as digital
media increases the opportunities for using writing to community related
purposes and social interaction that used to be handled in one-on-one
speeches or even by phone. In this case, networked writing differs from
the conventional writing that was primarily a solitary and non-involved
activity that did not have a compresent audience. Computer mediated
communication created a need for enhancing the suitability of written
language for social interaction with vernacular elaboration turning
writing into a sociability medium.
On the same note, social media comes with publicness of immense
measure. It goes without saying that a large amount of written language
that is publicly available is not subjected to editorial control. Of
course, mass media content must pass through such control. However, it
not only co-exists but also competes for attention with genres that are
not under any institutional control. The writing that is exercised in
the social media and texting allows for a seamless transfer of
counter-cultural usage of words and phrases into the mainstream public
spaces of discourse. Indeed, varied sociolinguistic manifestations of
the blending of the public and the private characterize the social media
and texting (Ito and Sali 97). The variations in scale allow writing
exercised in social media to have unprecedented visibility and space,
with the publicisation and digitization allowing for the modification of
the conventional rules of English language. Social media writing
capitalizes on the variability of spelling and is contingent on what the
keyboard production can afford. This may be seen in the hyper-excessive
usage of punctuation that is prevalent in teenage homepages.
The development of networked writing has allowed for the extension and
reconfiguration of the written language repertoires both at the societal
and individual level. Users of texting and social media develop unique
styles that they use in writing online, as well as metapragmatic
awareness pertaining to the choice of the written style. It is unclear
whether the style awareness and variation will result in new rules
especially considering that users of social media and texting are still
engaging in the settling of conventions that would ostensibly become the
new rules that may be broken or followed (Kataoka 130). Repertoire
extension revolves around the reconfiguration of the norms of written
language and the emergence of new indexical regimes. Scholars note that
practices pertaining to social media and texting fragment normative
authority’s locus. In this case, the norms and rules of written
language are pluralized to such an extent that varied writing styles
would be seen as appropriate in varied genres and environments, as well
as to varied user groups.
Underlining the subcultural nature of social media and texting is the
fact that visiting a Twitter profile of a individual or even a gamer
forum would show the user the varied ways in which he can claim symbolic
capital using language. These ways are localized especially with regard
to the fact that they are restricted to certain online networks and
communities. For example, a particular chat channel may encourage
multilingual play while another prohibits the use of foreign language
(Kataoka 134). Some forums stigmatize the deficiency of noun
capitalization in German while such mistakes are common place in others.
In these domains of unregimented writing, localized negotiation
determines the stylistic appropriateness, for instance, pertaining to
punctuation and spelling, or even how regional dialects are represented.
In this case, vernacular writing elaboration would encompass the
pluralisation of the manners in which written language would index
status or identity with regard to networked audience. Vernacular
writing, in this process, would have its meaning extending beyond the
conventional indexical values pertaining to class or region. This would
explain why certain rules and norms pertaining to language used in
social media and texting would only be understood or used by a certain
caliber of individuals, especially within certain age groups.
Prevalence in a Sub-section of the Society: Is Social Media and Texting
a Youth Culture?
Text messaging, alongside taking photos, comes as the most common or
popular non-voice application used by a large number of people on their
mobile phones. This would not come as a surprise considering that more
than 94% of Americans have a mobile phone. As much as the cell phone was
primarily devised to allow for voice calls, it became clear that the
devices had more potential, which resulted in the emergence of texting
as a trend. The entry of internet and its incorporation in mobile
devices allowed for the use of social media and texting in these
devices, with these modes of communication being extremely popular
unlike calling. Indeed, a large number of people would find the use of
these modes of communication as more efficient and cheaper than calling,
in which case they will opt for them at any time. Research shows that
about 73% of adult cell owners make use of the text messaging function
in their phones on an occasional basis. These studies show that users of
text messaging and social media receive and send 41.5 messages on
average every day, with 10 texts per day being the number that the
median user receives or sends. This undoubtedly underlines an increase
in text messaging from the figures shown in 2009 where the average
number of texts received or sent per day was 34.5, with the median being
8.5.
Scholars have noted that with about 67% of subscribers engaging in
texting, there is a high probability that there will be potential
“texters” in almost every age demographic. As a Nielsen study done
in 2009-2010 showed, individuals between the age of 18 and 24 were
texting at a rate of about three texts per hour. This study also showed
that as they move to the 25-35 age bracket, the individuals are still
texting at a rate of about 1000 texts per month. As much as there is
bound to be an increase in the number of individuals that are engaging
in the practice in all age groups, researchers note that the rate
declines as one goes from teens to seniors. This may be shown by the
results of a research study which indicated that individuals in the
55-64 age bracket were still engaging in texting but at the rate 80
times per month. Indeed, the rate declined to about 32 times per month
for individuals above 65 years.
The Nielsen study has been complemented by findings in subsequent
research that showed that young adults stand far above every other
demographic group as far as the utilization of text messaging and the
social media is concerned. Indeed, these studies show that about 95% of
individuals in the 18-29 age group use the text messaging and social
media applications in their phones, receiving and sending an average of
87.7 text messages per a typical day, while their median is around 40
text messages in a day. In addition, the youngest adults aged between 18
and 24 years have been shown as more proficient as far as their texting
habits are concerned. This is especially considering that about 95%
percent of individuals in this group have a cell phone, with 97% of them
using text messaging. In addition, the number of text messages that
individuals in this group encounters or creates daily is by far the
largest for any group. In one day, individuals between the age of 18 and
24 receive and send about 110 texts per day on average, which is more
than 3200 messages in one month. This group also has its median as 50
texts in one day, or about 1500 messages in one month. About 12% of
individuals stated that they received and sent more than 200 messages in
an average day, which equals 6,000 messages or more in one month. This
may be compared to other age groups, where the 110 messages per day for
individuals in the 18-24 years age group is more than double the figure
for individuals between the age or 25 and 34, and about 23 times the
figure that individuals aged 65 years and above have.
Of course, the question that comes to mind is how these demographics
fit in the notion of language changes among the varied age-groups. As
much as some scholars have downplayed the influence that texting and the
internet in general and social media in particular has on the manner in
which individuals speak, it is hardly deniable how young individuals
would be incorporating internet-speak or text-speak in to the mainstream
(Squires 474). Scholars have noted that the usage of text-speak and
internet-speak comes with a collection of words and unique meanings to
words that are considerably familiar or have been commonly used, a
meaning that is quite different from the conventional or mainstream
meaning (Squires 476). These meanings can only be understood by
individuals that use the social media and texting in their
communications, which means that the higher the rate at which
individuals in a particular age group use this mode of communication,
the higher the likelihood that they will be conversant with the terms
and distinctive meanings of the words used. With this in mind, it goes
without saying that individuals in the older age groups would be
considerably in the dark as far as the meanings of the varied terms, as
well as be slow in discerning the distortions that have been visited
upon the English words with which they were familiar. Indeed, some young
people in England recently compiled a post that detailed a collection of
pertinent slang that older people may need. This is also evidenced by
the fact that courts in the United States have been using sites such as
Urban Dictionary so as to comprehend the parlance pertaining to their
younger defendants.
In explaining this phenomenon, scholars have noted that middle-aged
people today never grew up in an environment that had internet, rather
they started using such technology when they were already teens or eve
adults. This means that they may not have a similar relationship with
individuals that grew up after the invention of these devices (in which
case they cannot be called native speakers). However, as the first
generation of “native speakers” get into adulthood and bears and
brings up children of their own, it goes without saying that the amount
of internet-speak and text speak that will be inculcated in normal
dialogue would be even more pronounced as the children will undoubtedly
be more acclimatized to online existence.
It is worth noting that, internet speak is not only woven into
conversations and writings of teens, rather it is used by all people
that use internet on a regular basis or takes part in internet culture.
There is a high likelihood that the internet-speak and text-speak will
continue having an immense influence on the manner in which individuals
communicate especially considering that as social networks continue
coming up with new terms, phrases and words, it is persistently
infiltrating the conversations of individuals in the older groups. Of
course, for now, it is primarily a youth culture but with time, it will
be used by individuals in the older age groups. On the same note, there
are high chances that the young generations using internet and text
messaging will always come up with new terms and phrases that will
replace the existing ones, in which case the terms that are currently
distorting the English language may not be permanently used in writing.
However, considering the fact that individuals continue using text
messages and social media less as they move across the different age
groups, it is quite likely that text- speak and internet-speak will
remain a youth phenomenon.
So what makes social media and texting a distinctive subculture?
Culture remains one of the most explored subjects in the history of
humanity. While there are varied definitions of culture, the most
comprehensive and simple one would be “ a society’s socially
transmitted and shared ideas, perceptions and values that are used in
making sense of an experience, or even creating a behavior and are seen
in that behavior. It is always imperative that societies balance the
needs of the individuals with the societal needs. Anything contrary to
this would result in the destabilization of the social systems,
especially in instances where the needs of the individual are
suppressed. Subcultures, on the other hand, are groups that have unique
patterns for shared and learned behavior within a larger culture. In
spite of the unique features, the individuals in the subcultures still
have characteristics that are similar to those of the larger society.
However, the existence of subcultures in a large number of state level
systems is triggered by their pluralistic nature, with subcultures
encompassing over a single ethnic culture or group.
In examining social media and texting as a culture, it is imperative
that one looks into the characteristics it exhibits. First, it goes
without saying that social media and texting is learned. A large number
of acronyms, words and terms will always have a hidden and
unconventional meaning, in which case an individual would have to learn
what the symbols entail. This would, essentially, be evidenced by the
fact that a large number of blogs and websites have been compiled
dedicated to outlining the meanings of some terms, acronyms and slang
that is used in the social media and texting.
In addition, subcultures are shared among members of a subsection of
the large society. This, however, does not necessarily underline
homogeneity in the course of actions of particular groups of people
within a subculture. Nevertheless, it is evident that the social
interactions that are allowed for in the social media or in computer
mediated communication are shared among the users. Indeed, this is
exactly why the culture seems to connect the young people across
societies. As much as there may be variations in the usage of certain
acronyms, terms and phrases, it goes without saying that users of
computer mediated communications share some aspects that separate them
from other users (Squires 479). This is essentially why computer
mediated communication remains largely a youth affair, as they spend a
large amount of time using it, in which case they learn the rules.
In addition, subcultures are primarily based on symbols that have been
agreed upon by the people in that culture. The distinctive feature of
social media and texting, or rather computer mediated communications is
the deviation from the conventional rules of language and writing. This
is agreeable across the users of computer mediated communication, with
poor grammar and punctuation being acceptable or even coming with
particular meanings to the users. In this regard, it is not difficult to
come across phrases such as “K, thanx, Bai” which essentially means
“OK, thanks, bye”. As much as the internet-speak and text-speak may
underline a distortion of the conventional English language, such
distortions and deliberate mistakes have not only been accepted but also
become common in computer mediated communication.
Lastly, the subculture promoted by computer mediated communication is
dynamic and is always undergoing continuous changes. It goes without
saying that the meanings that were given to particular words at the
entry of internet communications have been undergoing a paradigm change.
Indeed, words such as LOL have a considerably different meaning or
implication when placed in any sentence as shown earlier. This
underlines the dynamic nature of the subculture of computer mediated
communication especially with regard to its flexibility and capacity to
take on new meanings, as well as continue changing with time depending
on the demands of the users at any given time.
In conclusion, Communication has been one of the most fundamental
pillars of human interaction. Indeed, it is the one thing that joins
together animals within specific groups, and separates them from other
animals. However, human communication has been undergoing tremendous
change especially with regard to the inculcation of technological
advancements in communication where devices such as computers and mobile
phones are used. In this regard, computer mediated communication has
introduced a subculture that has its own rules of communication and
interaction. Indeed, this culture has allowed for the distortion of
English language, where participants engage in deliberate efforts to
counter the rules of conventional grammar. It is not difficult to come
across sentences in social media and texting, where capital letters are
mixed up with small letters, or even where sentences and phrases would
not make sense when read in line with the rules of mainstream grammar.
However, text-speak and internet speak have mainly been undertaken by
the youths especially those below 24 years. The rate at which
individuals in this age group undertake texting and the use of social
media is way higher than that of individuals in other age groups. Even
complementing the notion of computer mediated communication as a youth
culture is the fact that a large number of individuals in the older age
groups are not conversant with the terms and phrases, acronyms and lingo
that is used in these forums. Young people, however, by virtue of the
immense rates at which they use CMC have the advantage of keeping tabs
on emerging notions and new meanings and terms. This not only underlines
the notion of computer mediated communication as a youth culture but
also the dynamism of the same.
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