Social Media and Technical Writing

It is true that prior to this course, I have not associated the compatibility of social media and technical writing.  On one hand, it’s odd not to connect the two.  On the other hand, I, like many, haven’t viewed social media as a platform for technical writing.  For me, social media served two purposes. Like the students referenced in The Rhetoric of Reach: Preparing Students for Technical Communication in the Age of Social Media, social media serves to stay connected with friends and family. In addition, I use social media to promote music and concerts for the band I manage.

On occasion, I will browse Facebook for entertainment or “news.”  However, I tend to get distracted by poor grammar, mechanical errors, or informal “slang.”  In The Rhetoric of Reach, the authors write, “Social media has definitely altered the way writers write. They used to write to be read.  Now, they write to be browsed” (p. 60).  That is very accurate.  In fact, I once read a news article that reported on something that I found to be important.  Yet, the article was riddled with errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  So much so that I emailed the writer to tell him that his subject matter was important, yet I couldn’t view it as a credible piece because of the unprofessional publishing.  He replied and defended his work by explaining that he had to quickly text the story in on his phone while on the scene.  He didn’t have time to edit it or use a computer because someone else would have made the report faster than him and he prides himself on being the first to make a report.  That was a real eye opener for me.  Of course, I found his reasoning ridiculous, but it made me realize that accuracy and writing skill were being sacrificed for speed and instant publishing.  Writers no longer go through editors.  Pieces are published and sent out to the masses at a click of a button. This is exactly what is described in the student’s concerns in The Rhetoric of Reach.

It is because of this that I choose to be a bit rebellious.  I always spell my words out all the way (no substituting “r” for “are”) and I use complete sentences with punctuation when.  Although I will confess that I occasionally drop the subject in my texting.

Posted on September 18, 2016, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. “Of course, I found his reasoning ridiculous, but it made me realize that accuracy and writing skill were being sacrificed for speed and instant publishing.”

    Interesting that you mention this, because I think the first chapter in Digital Literacy touches on this (and I plan on discussing it more in this week’s response). The act of writing seems like it is (and to some extent always has been) undervalued, even in a profession based in writing. The emphasis has always been elsewhere. Field knowledge of the product you are documenting. The ability to program. Experience with publishing tools. The ability to minimize your time to market.

    More and more it feels that writers are not hired for writing. They are hired for marketing, for tools expertise, for publishing–the fact that we can write the content seems incidental at this point (despite the fact that without writing, there would be nothing to market, no need for the tools, and nothing to publish).

    • I think it’s true that writers are hired to do more than writing, but I also think the writing needs to be strong even when pushed out so fast. Otherwise, the reputation will sink just as you mentioned with that news article. We could also venture into the topic of clickbait… Oh so much to say there!

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