Clear Writing Strikes a Nerve!
Wow! Eleven comments! My last post on clear writing seems to have struck a nerve. I will write more on it (well, I hope!), but first I wanted to share something that an actual member of the millennial generation said about the topic (in addition to the millennials that posted comments). Her father had forwarded her my post, and this is what she (a college student) had to say:
This was really interesting – I’m glad you sent it to me! I happen to think that both points of view have valid arguments.
When I consider text messaging and instant messaging, I believe the blogger is exactly correct. They are not meant to produce any great level of literary acclaim but simply facilitate communication. I guess if I were to think about it in comparison to spoken language, I would relate it to slang. Shortening is just plain easier and so fully understood that there is usually nothing lost in translation. However, I also refuse to resort to the fullest degree of ‘text speak’ (therefore if you’ve noticed you’ll never receive anything like ‘hI gr8t txt ttmi ttly 4sur luvs’ from me, or from anyone I talk to using text) As inelegant as it appears, somehow I still manage to know everything about everyone I’ve ever met and where my friends are at all times right?
That being said, I find it interesting how this sort of talking, just like vernacular, infiltrates writing. There are some absolutely horrible writers running around blogging away, posting myspace bulletins and spamming the crap out of my e-mail, which is annoying. However, I’ve found some completely incredible poetry and even blogs themselves that have incorporated this kind of talking in an artistic way. Sometimes the writer comes off as an illiterate fool, but there are others who know how to use this parred down language in powerful ways.
Think of romantic writing, Faulkner, the manual for my iPod. ‘Well written’, but man are they wordy. So, maybe my generation is one of purists 😀 and just want to get ‘it out there’.
I absolutely agree with the blogger’s last point. I think that giving people computer access and yes, cell phones, has altered who actually writes immensely. I’ve had classes with people who probably couldn’t tell you a single alternate word for ‘great’ but who faithfully post blogs, write comments and participate in online discussions on a daily basis. Maybe writing has just become less elitist? Sure, as soon as you provide the tool to ‘average joe’ with no academic goals, poetic aspirations or work mandated assignments, some crap gets written. A lot, actually. A lot of really truly badly written things, everywhere you look.
But come on, what is quality writing, anyway? I’ve written my share of exquisitely worded, grammatically flawless, academically relevant trite BS. Gold star. But get the kid who never raises her hand in class to write about her day (using bad verb conjugation) and really say something about her life? That is really really cool.
I personally think of ‘good writing’ as a tool for making writing powerful. It just makes sense to me to write well so that my message has maximum impact and is understandable to my audience. But it’s still fundamentally about the idea behind it, or it’s just drivel 🙂
So, there it is. Now I have to go write a paper 😀
Ttly luv ya (hahahahaha)