Social Media Counts?

I found it interesting how many people used social media as examples of writing. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram- it never really occurred to me that “OMG just saw a baby laugh at a puppy #cute” could really count as writing. When I think of writing, I suppose I conjure up images of the traditional books, poems, articles- the stuff of Kerouac and Hemingway. But it makes perfect sense- in this fast-paced modern age,  our writing should be much quicker and more concise. Social media really is an excellent way of keeping us on our toes as writers. Word and character limits force us to get our thoughts and ideas across in a brief, yet entertaining manner. Likes and retweets are forms of instant feedback from readers. I think it is a sign of how we as writers need to evolve to keep up with the new forms of writing that come with new technology. Social media adds pressure to the budding writer by forcing him or her to produce new, concise content that is immediately judged by the public and has a viewing span of a few hours or days at most, however, it also removes pressure from the writer in many of the same ways. Social media puts publishing in the control of the writer, it provides an immediate audience, and does not have to be extremely long to be appreciated.

I also found it interesting that calligraphy was mentioned as a form of writing. Obviously, it is based on written text, but it always struck me as more of an art form than pure writing, but I suppose that is my archaic, and rigid definition of “writing” holding me back again. Calligraphy almost seems to give more weight and importance to the written word. While social media is based on rapid mechanical typing, calligraphy celebrates the beauty of the words in themselves, as each letter is painstakingly drawn out with care. I suppose one would have to choose words more carefully when writing in calligraphy because it takes so much more time to write each letter. In a way, calligraphy almost has the opposite effects as social media does on writing. I guess the whole exercise of outlining what really counts as writing really shows me how narrow my previous definition of writing was, and how the different modes of writing can really have an effect on the content itself.

Sonalee Joshi

Sonalee is a fourth year student in the College of LSA with an Honors major in Biopsychology, Cognition, & Neuroscience with a Sweetland Minor in Writing.

5 thoughts to “Social Media Counts?”

  1. I really liked how your post showed the contrast between social media and calligraphy. Another difference I suppose I saw between the two forms is the focus on content and medium. When I think of calligraphy, I am not usually thinking of the content of this writing form, but the visual beauty of it. When I think of tweeting, I think more of it’s content and the medium it is distributed through. They are two completely separate entities in my mind yet both definitely categorized under writing.

    Another interesting point you bring up is the brevity that social media demands. Our generation is so content driven that we are almost impatient when it comes to consuming our information. We do not want to wait for the point, rather we want to receive it as soon as we skim the post. This mindset is shaping the way we receive everything from a breaking news story to a viral video. It’s definitely a shift that will continue to alter the mediums that develop in the next few years.

  2. I had a similar initial reaction to you when I saw all the social media posts. I wouldn’t have immediately thought of Twitter as a writing form, but as you said the instant nature of social media reflects our fast-paced 21st century society.

    I like your points on contrasting social media with calligraphy, but I was also able to find some similarities between the two. Maybe Twitter doesn’t focus on the physical beauty of words, but a lot of social media sites emphasize aesthetics with both words and pictures. Many people use Instagram to post motivational quotations in pretty fonts and colors. Usually the more aesthetically pleasing posts generate the most number of “likes” because they catch people’s attention. In a similar way, people use the attention-grabbing nature of calligraphy to capture an audience and get people to read the message written in the fancy font. As you pointed out, however, calligraphy takes much longer to produce than social media posts, so the word choice in calligraphy may be of a higher standard than generic motivational Instragram posts.

  3. Something that I found interesting was how you mentioned that current writers are having to evolve how they write based on the changing technology. I feel like college aged writers are in a sort of in between stage where we can remember a time when all writing was done in the more traditional sense of actual physical writing, but we also have grown up and have been influenced by the internet. I think it’ll be interesting to see if because of the new forms of digital writing (social media, emails, etc.) whether or not new students will receive any instruction in these new forms of writing as opposed to only the traditional academic writing that we were taught.

  4. I definitely agree with your points on social media. I have often spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how I’m going to perfectly word a snarky, humorous facebook status. This sort of writing often gets written off as trivial or unimportant, but I think that this is really unfair. Many celebrities interact with fans on social media, and companies often advertise their products on social media. Therefore, social media is a platform for many different genres of writing. Most of this writing can be analyzed for rhetorical elements (as you described in regards to audience and purpose), and therefore I completely agree with you that social media should be respected as a legitimate platform for writing.

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