It’s no secret that social media is an extremely prevalent part of our lives in today’s society. Everywhere you look you can find people accessing social media, whether it be perusing Facebook in class, tweeting while waiting online at the bank or checking into Foursquare at a restaurant. But has all this social media on our computers and cell phones distracted us from social interactions in real life?
Megan Puglisi discusses how social media sites are “ruining the public communication skills” of American college students in her article for The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University’s daily newspaper. According to Puglisi, a 2010 Northern Michigan University study showed that students who accessed Facebook or had it up in the background while studying earned grades that were an average 20% lower than students who kept off the social media site entirely. While Puglisi praises Facebook for it’s ability to allow college students to “maintain bonds” with their friends and family who they may be separated from while away at school, she
criticizes the fact that the site also allows students to avoid physical contact with their peers. A public relations professor at West Virginia University, Dr. Kelley Crowley, sees this
reticency in her students. Dr. Crowley notices that her students are “more comfortable sending me an e-mail from behind a computer screen” rather than meeting with her directly.
I myself have definitely seen this issue in my own classrooms here at Towson. I’ve overheard conversations between other students and spoken to my own friends about how they choose to walk out of the room after class, passing their professor on the way out, to go back to their rooms and e-mail that same teacher with important questions they have. Personally, I relish the relationships I create with my professors by hanging back after class and discussing my questions with them. I also enjoy being known by my professors as “Alana” rather than “email@example.com,” giving them the chance to put a face to my name instead of remaining just a faceless e-mail address.
Another glaring social media-enduced issue Puglisi covers is the atrocious grammar and spelling that often litters Facebook timelines and Twitter news feeds. She worries that our generation’s constant usage of informal language on social media sites will “dramatically increase and threaten [our] intelligence and productivity.” As a self-proclaimed member of the Grammar Police myself, I can understand her concerns. My social media feeds are riddled with questions of “r u gonna b their tonite?” and friends telling friends “your so much better then me at math!!” and I can’t help but cringe and worry for our future generations who cannot seem to grasp an understanding of the difference between your and you’re. The informality of communication over social media has students misunderstanding the importance of keeping “texting language” out of their formal class papers or e-mails to professors.
It is my worry that eventually the people who make careless grammatical mistakes will become the bosses of large corporations and in turn will hire people with similarly bad grammar. Soon after, we will be driving past billboards and reading newspapers filled with mistakes simply because employers are accepting of and perpetuating the usage of improper grammar and terrible spelling. Puglisi includes a reference in her article to After the Deadline, a free web browser plug-in that checks your writing for spelling and grammar mistakes before you submit papers. So, please, for the love of grammar, utilize this website (or simply pay attention to that blaring red squiggly line underneath your misspelled words) and educate yourself before posting things on social media!