The written word holds that of a ubiquitous presence. More so today than at any other point in human history we communicate through the art of language, combining words together to underscore our meaning, our sentiment, our direction and our intent.
Over time we’ve become witnesses to a digital revolution that has dramatically impacted the way we communicate, transforming us into linguistic utilitarians who favour function over form, and convenience over correctness. As such, slowly but surely the English language has evolved to accommodate these preferences, and with social media and technology expanding daily, the ways in which we think, interact and even create have been impacted. While some words are popularised quickly and then soon forgotten, others have become so commonplace (cue #hashtag) that the overall trend of ‘text-speak’ and poor grammar, punctuation and spelling has weaseled its way into a permanent fixture of our language.
We’ve all seen it, and most of us have even done it. Whether consciously or not, we quite regularly find ourselves shortening full sentences to mere fragments, abbreviating long words with phonetically similar (but often misspelled ones), refuting capitalisation, and even ignoring punctuation altogether for the sake of brevity and efficiency. In an age when our day to day communications and even business are fuelled by emails, tweets, text messages and social media updates, the most remarkable developments in technology have also been the most adverse when it comes to how we connect. Where character limits are constantly keeping us on the short side of the rope, auto-correct simultaneously picks up the slack when we are too lazy, or too hurried to correct ourselves.
Keeping up with the evolution of the English language is no easy task. While the craft of writing is still widely prevalent, breakthroughs in communication have come part and parcel with society’s natural instinct to both automate and innovate, with technology changing the way we read, write, and reason. Much of our social connectedness has now taken the form of cryptic half-sentences, emojis, and short-hand phrases. As a hallmark of the Digital Age, social media is just one of these advancements that has changed business communication over the last 25 years. Everyone with access to an email account or a social platform is a writer now, and in the corporate world we’re expected to communicate with either to some extent. Additionally, the fast-paced nature of our culture has changed our attitude: we don’t have as much patience as we used to, and have become slightly too comfortable with sending and receiving messages in real time. Gone are the days of snail mail and carefully curated words; we’ve since grown accustomed to the luxury of immediate communication, which, while undoubtedly a sign of our social progress and technological development, has replaced the art of the English language with something far more casual.
So how do we keep the art of language alive, and why?
1. Credibility: We all aim to create an online persona that reflects the core values of our brand, and is truly respected by both industries and individuals alike. To be successful in this it is important to build a credible reputation in your digital space, one that is built upon accuracy and a respect for your craft.
2. Professionalism: Similarly, poorly written materials can create a negative impression on clients, suggesting the brand they’ve chosen to trust and the work they’ve paid good money for was done hurried and with little care. Regardless if your content is being read by your mother, a colleague, or by a corporate CEO – it should always be professional and well written.
3. Clarity: Written work that is convoluted or vague can often result in misinterpretation, and a host of typos and grammatical errors will do nothing but cloud the ultimate purpose of your writing. Remember the age-old notion that ‘clarity is key?’ How about another one of our favourites: ‘If in doubt, cut it out!’
4. Respect: Put simply, great content will inspire great people to read it (and share it). Proper use of language is a sign of respect, not only to yourself but also your readers. It allows your words to clearly and concisely deliver your message, garner trust, and create long lasting relationships.
5. Posterity: They say the Internet will live on forever, which, in that case, anything you publish and put forth under your brand will most likely stay there for all to see. To ensure your content is prosperous, let it be remembered for its excellence.