Growing up, I romanticized print media and fantasized about the day I’d work as a writer or editor. I eventually reached my goal — but by the time I got there, everything we thought we knew about books, newspapers, and magazines had been turned on its head.
For a while, we expected to witness the death of journalism and publishing at any moment. But it’s been nearly 20 years since the Internet went public. And while the turn of a page has been replaced with a click of a button, the ability to communicate world-changing ideas to the public hasn’t become obsolete — and it probably never will.
The problem is, as a society, we’re slowly losing our ability to think, read and communicate deeply. If you want to know just how bad it is, read Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. It’s sort of like the Hunger Games, only your brain is Panem and the Internet is the Capitol, trying to deprive it of any real sustenance.
Don’t get me wrong — I work as an online editor and I love the way the Internet and mobile technology have cracked open how we create and share information. I like trying to convey complex ideas in 140 characters on Twitter… it’s like a puzzle. I embrace the fact that language is constantly changing with the times, and I don’t have a problem with the fact that BitTorrent and cybercast are now in the Oxford English Dictionary.
But as the world gets smaller and faster thanks to technology, there’s a growing crisis of faith in the written word as the institutions struggle to keep up. Faltering newspapers. Journalism scandals. Stumbling book publishers. Grammar gone wild in an era of texting and tweeting. But I believe that language, while sometimes clunky and limiting, is all we’ve got. It doesn’t just shape how we view the world — it IS how we view the world. It’s important to preserve our brains’ ability to use it and process it with agility, as well as the publications offering up ideas that encourage us to think deeply and differently.
So, welcome to ‘This Wonderful Word’ — my love-blog to language that’s part media criticism, part linguistic trivia and trends, and entirely the ramblings of a devoted word nerd.