The Decay of Language in Social Media

I have made something of a discovery. Social media has blown up over the course of my life, and, over the same span of time, it has evolved. The first major social media outlet to blow up in my memory was Facebook. (I know that MySpace predates Facebook, but it doesn’t even compete anymore and wasn’t big when I entered the realm of social media.)

Facebook is, by far and away, my favorite social media outlet because of the ability to have extended and developed conversations. Users also have the capability to post very long portions of text that they’ve determined needs to be shared. Pictures and videos may be shared as well, and this makes for a very well-rounded experience. Since then, Twitter has come along.

Twitter also allows for the sharing of pictures and video, but the text must be within a 140-character limit. This means that thoughts that have been well-developed cannot be shared. If it doesn’t fit, you cannot share it. Twitter also makes extended, developed conversation quite difficult. After this came Instagram.

Instagram allows you to post pictures and videos as well, but you cannot make purely textual posts at all. Picture or video is required. This makes well-developed, well-written posts nonexistent and makes it incredibly difficult to publicly converse with other users. Most recently, Snapchat has taken the world by storm.

Snapchat does what Instagram does, but takes away permanence. Nothing that is posted lasts for more than a 24-hour period. Public conversation is impossible and well-developed, well-articulated posts are very strongly discouraged if they are at all possible in the first place.

Do you see the pattern I’ve seen? Language is being systematically eliminated from the public sector. People spend inordinate amounts of time within the bubbles they’ve created for themselves on social media. This has served to eliminate language in two ways. Firstly, because of all of the immersion into social media, people, especially young people, have drifted from Facebook all the way to Snapchat. This means that they are underexposed to writing on a scale never before seen. Secondly, this immersion into social media means that these same people have removed themselves from real conversations. This means that these people have no exposure whatsoever, on a regular basis, to language.

Language is what sets us apart from all the other creatures on Earth. God created the heavens and the earth by his word (Ps. 33:6). Before there was anything, there was the Word (John 1:1). And God has given his written word as the conduit through which the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is preached through the ages and to all people throughout those ages. Language is an important part of our being created in the image of God. Therefore, as the image of God, it is our duty to be good stewards of language itself. And how do we do this? By writing and reading. It is incumbent on us, as Christians, to write and read because we know the value of our language.

Our responsibility to maintain the integrity of language is paramount because the elimination of language will have catastrophic results. If you didn’t know, words have meanings. It is very important to be precise in what we say. If we say that there are three Beings within the Godhead, we’ve crossed the threshold into heresy, whereas if we say that there are three Persons, we are confessing a biblical truth. The difference one word makes can make all of the difference in the world. However, we are allowing our language to decay around us.

It is becoming harder and harder and more and more difficult to speak and write precisely. However, this gift which God has given us is worth fighting for. Please join me in the fight for the preservation of language.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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