Social Media is Changing our Language and our World

by: Noemi Manchester

Have you ever found yourself using an online acronym like “OMG” in an actual face-to-face conversation? I’m almost ashamed to admit that I have. Odds are, students have probably found themselves using the letter u instead of the actual word and similar online shortcuts in papers they were writing for school at least once. Social media is changing not only how we communicate with other people, but also our vocabulary.

I remember being in middle school working on a paper for my English class (and back then there was no Facebook or Twitter, but we were still using acronyms we learned from instant messaging) and having to go back and edit it because I had used several shortcuts that would probably have made my teacher cringe.

Now, our language is filled with acronyms, made up words, and common words that have been given totally different meanings. If you would have heard someone saying, “You better untag me in that picture or I’m going to unfriend you,” fifteen years ago, you would have no idea what that person was saying. This CNN article details nine ways in which Facebook has changed the way that we talk.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have not only changed how we talk but also the way we think. If you are using a site like Twitter, you have to condense your thoughts into 140 characters or less. Is this a good or bad thing? On one hand, you have to really think about what you want to say to make it fit the character restriction, but on the other hand does it teach people to think in 140 characters. How is anyone expected to write a 10 page paper in a world of Twitter?

There’s no denying the impact of social media on our language, but it’s prompting some pretty big behavioral changes from us also. This article details some of the things that our population is doing that is directly related to our addiction to social media. We are all more distracted. Is it not the most annoying thing when you are trying to have a conversation with someone who keeps checking their Facebook? It drives me crazy, but it’s also made me make a conscious attempt to not be that person.

Something that I haven’t seen brought up in any of these articles (but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere) is that we are constantly multitasking. While writing this, I have checked Facebook, had a couple of text message conversations, and am in the middle of a shift at work. Our focus is just so spread out.

Social media has some very obvious benefits like being able to keep up with friends and family extremely easily, but there are some aspects of it that may not be the best thing for our society. It really makes me wonder where we will be in another fifteen years. Surely, there will be a slew of new words to add to the dictionary.



 1. Chopra, Karan. “The Effects of Social Media on How We Speak and Write.” SocialMediaToday. N.p., 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. .

2. Griggs, Brandon. “9 Ways Facebook Changed How We Talk.” CNN. N.p., 01 Feb. 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2014. .

3. Knibbs, Kate. “Kthxbai! How Internet-speak Is Changing the Way We Talk IRL (in Real Life).” Digital Trends. N.p., 22 May 2013. Web. 22 Feb. 2014.


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Mayborn Social Media Class

This is the official class blog of Journalism 4270/5330.001, the strategic social media class of the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. Contributors are upper level undergraduate and graduate students, mainly journalism majors. Our Twitter hashtag is #untj4270. All content is student or instructor generated, and opinions are our own. Material is copyright by individual authors. Comments are welcome and encouraged.