We’re no strangers to how social media has become a part of our lives that we spend virtually more time online than we spend in our real lives. Social media has gone ahead to be many things for people; a business platform for some, a marketing tool for some, a haven etc. Because we perform a lot of activities on social media these days, one can only wonder how it affects certain things in our lives or the society. Amidst the number of areas worthy of a discourse it must have affected, we’d be talking about the influence of social media in English language.
In essence, Effect means “change or result” and as such could be either positive or negative. Hence, we can’t specifically ascertain whether or not the influence of social media on English language should be applauded or booed. It’s two-sided as we’d be comparing it’s effects on both angles.
English language is ever evolving, it’s never stagnant, that’s why you seem even dictionaries have series of editions because words become introduced on the go. English language constantly moves with the tide ie it’s known to change constantly to accommodate developments in technology and culture. Though some words spring up, gets trendy and goes to oblivion but for some, they become permanent fixtures of English language.
Honestly, keeping up with the evolution of English language is not a walk in the park due to how much of these words come on board within a short time.
In the past, it took years or even decades for word usage to warrant inclusion in the dictionary. Radio and TV shortened the amount of time it took for new terms to gain traction, but the real revolution has occurred over the past several years thanks to the Internet and other technologies.
Now, the development of the English language is accelerating at an unprecedented rate, social media is at the center of the struggle, increasing the speed at which new words are adopted and creating new words for possible inclusion in the modern dictionary.
Social media plays an important role in determining how dictionaries learn about potential new words. Instead of waiting for new words to gradually make their way through traditional channels, modern dictionaries use social media to monitor new words.
Social media has also become a driving force behind the new words that are surfacing in the English vocabulary. The majority of the words that are being suggested for inclusion in dictionaries are either terms that describe various aspects of social media or words that have achieved widespread recognition due to the prolific social media use of pop culture influencers.
Some people might want to deem social media a plague to English language due to the way some people unskillfully use and have abused it but we shouldn’t override a fact that social media has done the most in having a dominant influence over the evolution of English language.
Let’s see some of these words that taken an entirely different meaning from what they used to be. “Tweet” used to be something birds do but now it’s a form of communicating via social media app Twitter, which led to the introduction of several words like tweep, retweet. Via Facebook, we got introduced to “unfriend“. The # symbol is now very much recognized and utilized on social media as a key search tool for whatever topic. Selfie, baddest etc Words like Slay have gone mainstream with a more indulging meaning. Not forgetting the ultimate “this table you’re shaking” that seems to be the rave.
One of the downside is that it has made people especially students very lazy and tactless that some don’t know how to balance situations; how not to bring informal to a formal setting at least not yet, maybe we’d get there. Some students are now deficient writing with paper and using punctuation even when they do, they put on their gadgets for “spell check”.
However, in the Nigerian cyberspace, I wouldn’t overlook the fact that social media has a chunk of negative impact in our English though it’s getting better. Few years back, almost the entire country on social media was guilty of writing in substandard forms. A mode of writing that was frightening and lamentable because it was fast becoming people’s way of regular writing already especially among youths. They forget that it’s not the same as texting/tweeting as some apply for jobs with that mode of writing. While in secondary school, in my early years on social media. I was badly affected that I remember using these social media way of writing and it cost me so much marks during examination. Recruiters complained of coming across applicants that applied for jobs using this substandard form of writing but I’ll tell you that it’s getting better. I think people are becoming more oriented.
Let me take you on a trip down memory lane with some of these words we crucified but thank God they are being resuscitate
“for”, you are likely to see “4”, and so the word “forget” becomes “4get”, or “4git”, “fortune” is written as “4tune”, “forever” as “4eva”. The word “see” has been pruned down to a single alphabet “C”, same with “you” now rendered as “u”. In effect, you are likely to read such strange things as “cu” or “cya” meaning “see you.”
Some other words have suffered similar fate: “straight” as “Str8”, “first” as “fess”; “will” as “wee” “house” as “haus”; “help” as “epp”; (“who have you epped?”)“kind of”,as “kinda”, “money” as“moni.”, the computer sign ”@” had effectively replaced the word “at”; “come” is now “cum”, the conjunction “and” was represented with an “n” or the sign &, “that” as“dat”, “are” as “r”, “your” as “ur” “to” as “2”, “take” as “tk.” In place of “thank you”, you are likely to find “tank u”, “with” is now “wit” or “wif”, and “sorry” as “sowie”. “Hawayu?” (“How are you?”)