The Death of Grammar by Young People

Courtney Rubin of the New York Times on college students and email, with this money quote from a current student:

“I never know what to say in the subject line and how to address the person,” Ms. Carver said. “Is it mister or professor and comma and return, and do I have to capitalize and use full sentences? By the time I do all that I could have an answer by text if I could text them.”

I am speechless. I love texting as much as anyone. I also consider myself fairly tech savvy, and away of new applications and communication methods. Texting works for most cases, and I try to avoid actually talking to someone on the phone when I can. Texting is faster, and it’s single threaded, meaning I can text someone and if they are busy they can respond later, unlike actually calling someone.

Texting has limitations though. It’s not great for complex conversations, or for sharing information that someone needs to save, like dates and times or things like that. And group texting just doesn’t work. It’s too easy to fall behind the conversation and not be able to keep up.

But the issue here isn’t whether email is good or bad. It’s people actually saying things like “do I have to use full sentences” that are just alarming. People need to learn how to communicate and function in the world where texting isn’t enough of a mainstream option, in the same way that my generation couldn’t solely rely on email or the internet until just recently. Sure writing emails is likely going to go the way of writing actual letters, but writing complete sentences isn’t disappearing tomorrow.

But now I just sound like one of those “old” people who told me when I was in college that email and the web weren’t going to replace things as we knew them back then.