Reading/Writing in a Digital Age (Camille Johnson)

Reading and writing has been transformed with the emergence of the digital age. There are various digital formats that affect the processes of reading and writing.

Social media is a major force in the digital world. People are no longer encouraged to write at length when they communicate with one another. Twitter and Facebook encourage people to share short, to-the-point, thoughts. The use of emoticons helps make our messages shorter. Texting also encourages short messages and quick reactions/replies to what we are reading. This kind of forced immediacy is both good and bad.

Vocabulary is another area undergoing transformation. The amount of acronyms commonly weaved in our use of language (and widely accepted) is a bit shocking when we consider it is not proper English. Using “lol” (as one example of many) to express laughter is stylistically ugly and conveys an exciting emotion in a boring way.

A strength of reading in the digital age is that – once we fully embrace the digital world – we very well could be reading more! E-readers make reading so convenient – a slim tablet is much easier to carry than a big heavy book.

People also have many more resources literally at their fingertips to find reading material. The Internet is an explosion of information. Every topic imaginable has websites, blogs, forums, chat rooms, etc. to give us the opportunity to read and write. Blogs can also make reading easier. Instead of big blocks of text, text is broken up with visuals. We are now reading alongside pictures more often.

Reading in the digital age poses its problems. Many people experience discomfort and headaches from constantly reading off a screen. There can also be a disjointedness that makes reading hard. For example, Twitter uses a blend of the “@” sign and links along with the message.

The Internet has provided a fantastic opportunity to write and share our message with the rest of the world. Creating a website or blog can help us develop and hone our writing skills while we are engaged in a topic of interest. Unlike writing that is obligatory (for academic or professional purposes), writing for our own enjoyment and about a topic of our choosing can bring forth our best writing.

Are we better off in the digital age in terms of reading and writing? Despite some problems, I believe that we are. If we take advantage of the opportunities and resources the Internet has to offer (e.g., Linkedin, online learning), use the Internet responsibly (e.g., not spend hours on Facebook “creeping” other people), then we can become more knowledgeable, more interesting, more worldly citizens!

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