I admit I have been known to jump on the bandwagon of social networking sites — I always want to know what the fuss is about. A few months ago, I heard about the
micro-blogging site Twitter, which sounded like a condensed version of Facebook.
I eventually got an account with the Web site and have been using it every other day or so. However, as I’ve used Twitter I’ve wondered what effects it and other technology have had on the art of writing.
When I was in high school, I blogged my heart out on LiveJournal, where users can write thousands of words in a single post. However, since I started college my activity has lessened, maybe because I no longer have the time or the teenage drama that filled my journal.
I find myself on Twitter and Facebook more than any other social networking site. Twitter allows only 140 characters per post, which makes users condense their thoughts and phrases. And everyone from Ashton Kutcher to The New York Times has a Twitter and uses it on a regular basis.
While it is interesting to use Twitter to peek into the lives of friends and celebrities, there is little content on it.
What is shocking is how much technology is changing even more traditional ways of writing. Of Japan’s 10 best-selling novels of 2008, five were originally cell phone novels.
Cell phone novels are stories written by people on their cellular devices. Once read on tiny computer and phone screens, they have become real published books with a real reading audience.
“Will cell phone novels kill ‘the author’?” the Japanese literary journal Bungakukai asked on the cover of its January issue.
“In cell phone novels, characters tend to be undeveloped and descriptions thin, while paragraphs are often fragments and consist of dialogue,” according to The New York Times.
Some people say art is reflective of the times. Cell phones, Web sites and technology certainly are — but what happens when “the times” aren’t producing any good art?
That’s not just the writers’ fault — it is the readers’ as well. People want information as quickly as possible without much effort on their part.
Culturally ingrained “text speak” and brief Twitter-style details may portend a bleak future for writing. While there will always be good writers, their numbers are sadly slimming.
Candace Kaw is a senior majoring in mass communications and history.