The Influence of IM on Society

The Influence of IM on Society
Before I explore how a term like cyberculture has became a phenomena, I must first explain what cyberculture is. According to wordreference.com, cyberculture is the culture that emerges from the use of computers for communication and entertainment and business. When asked to do this research on communication and the changes society has gone through as a result of something technological, the first thing I thought of was instant messaging. In an article, Internet jargon, acronyms enter English language, Michelle Talsma sites Andrew Chang?s definition of IM language as, ?A collection of abbreviations, acronyms, and phonetic replacements make up a kind of Internet shorthand text that has been dubbed hax0r-speak by some, in imitation of the hackers, programmers and other computer geeks who have been using the internet to communicate since the early 1980?s(1).? Instant messaging has changed words, terms, and complete sentences into shorter versions of themselves
For example, phrases like laughing out loud have become lol in the instant messaging world. Similarly, lmao is laughing my ass off. Other examples of abbreviated phrases are: JK- Just Kidding, JP- Just playin?, JC- Just chillin?, brb- Be right back, NM- Nevermind, K- Okay, G2G- Got to go, lyl- Love you lots, lylab- Love you like a brother, HW- Homework. Phrases become letters that in turn become language. On a couple of instances I can remember my brother and his high school friends talking on the phone using those abbreviated phrases. Maybe because certain words are not appropriate to say out loud in their full form, like ass, or maybe because it just saves time to talk in abbreviated form. Another aspect of instant messaging that is important is convenience; one can talk at anytime, at any location, and not disturb others. With the option of instant messaging services incorporated into cell phones, people can talk on IM from their phones without disturbing people with their voices. Nonverbal communication is a form of communication that is always communicating, even when one isn?t speaking. An example of nonverbal communication is when one is talking or listening one might smile, indicating they are happy with what was communicated or one might yawn indicating one is bored or not interested with the topic of conversation. Without the luxury of seeing each other in cyberspace, nonverbal cues are not known. Since IM has become popular everything has become abbreviated, even ones emotion and nonverbal cues. IM users have become aware of the distance associated with cyber communication. To compensate for the distance users have created a way to make IM more personal. Examples of emotion and nonverbal cues were created to fill the communication gaps, examples are: :) ? I?m happy, :( ? I?m sad , :S ? I have mixed feelings, 8) ? I?m wide awake, :0 ? I?m surprised, (:0 ? I?m very surprised, :p ? Sticking out the tongue, :9 ? Yummy, :/ ? Hmmm, :v ? I?m chatting. Aside from the written emotions many IM services offer default almost cartoon like emotions. Examples of these are written in html code and offer an abundance of colorful emotions. As a result of the World Wide Web and instant messaging, culture itself is changing. The influence of the World Wide Web and IM has been strong enough to change culture and strong enough to affect language and social interaction. Sven Birkerts, in his essay ?Into the Electronic Millenium,? states ?There is no question but that the transition from the culture of the book to the culture of electronic communication will radically alter the ways in which we use language on even the societal level (70).? There seems to be a reoccurring theme in society, with writing technologies, language, and forms of communication. During Socrates time, the pencil was thought to be an invention that would take away from language and society. Sven Birkets views the electronic future as ?language erosion (70).? Maybe the use of tools like IM will alter the way we communicate, but to say that it is evil or erosion is far fetched. Sometimes one must take a step back in order to see in front of oneself. If the pencil was considered evil just as the telegraph, just as the telephone, just as the typewriter, then one must know that the computer and its communication tools are going to be considered just as evil. Until society views the computer as natural, like the pencil is today, someone out there will think the computer and IM are causing things such as language erosion. Walter Ong notices these reoccurring objections to new forms of communication in his ?Writing Is a Technology that Restructures Thought.? Ong states, ?What is seldom if ever noticed, however, is that Plato?s objections against writing are essentially the very same objections commonly urged today against computers by those who object to them (319).? A new aspect of communication via electronic communication is viewed as distanced or less personal. Birkets comments on the changes due to technological advances over the years as, ?One day we will conduct our public and private lives within networks so dense, among so many channels of instantaneous information, that it will make almost no sense to speak of the differentiations of subjective individualism (72).? I think that his point of view on this matter contradicts the colloquial form of communication experienced on IM. Furthermore, if slang doesn?t individualize a person, the choice to use slang does. Having multiple platforms to communicate on will only more individualize people. On a societal level people are able to communicate with who they want no matter where they are, thus making us able to ?chose? who we want in our life?s will in turn make us more individualized. When one is forced to live in an environment with no communication with those that are like or dislike them they are more likely to conform to that environment. With the option to explore any environment one wants, communicate with people that would normally not live in ones environment, and learn from anyone, one can only become an individual.

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