The Language of Social Media

April 26, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Meg Jones
mpjones@smu.edu

SMU students live in a world where Facebook is their homepage. When they are not at their computers, they are blogging from their cell phones and it is completely acceptable to poke, tweet or tag somebody.

Social media has invaded the Hilltop and has introduced a whole new lingo to our everyday language and new words to the dictionary.

“When I’m not blogging from my computer, I’m tweeting from my cell phone or checking my Facebook updates,” Kerri Dezell, SMU junior advertising major, said.

Web 2.0 is the buzzword summing up the latest generation of Internet technology and signifies the change in philosophy as to how information is generated and shared.

People used to think of electronically mediated language as abbreviations such as OMG or LOL, but in today’s world, the focus of e-language is changing from text message short hands to the coined phrases of social media.

The integration of words such as Facebook, Twitter and blog into our daily vocabulary “reflects the dynamic and somewhat porous nature of the English language,” Kartik Pashupati, SMU professor of Mass Media and Technology, said.

The computer-crazed culture has changed the noun Facebook into a verb. Facebook is not only something we have, but also something we do.

According to an article written by Professor Susan C. Herring of Indiana University, “Computer Mediated Discourse is not just a trend; it is here to stay.”

The New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year in 2009 was unfriend; a verb that means to remove someone as a friend on a social networking site such as Facebook.

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” Christie Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program, said in a press release.

Hashtag, also considered as a candidate for the 2009 Word of the Year, is defined as a sign (this one: #) added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items.

Facebook was the runner-up for Merriam-Webster dictionary’s 2007 word of the year. Other entries similar to Facebook in the Merriam-Webster dictionary include Facebooker, Facebookian, Facebooking and Facebook-it is.

According to Facebook’s Press Room, there are more than 400 million active users and the average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook.

When people don’t have access to their computers, they are logging on via cell phone. There are more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile phones.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced at Chirp, the Twitter development conference, that the site has 105,779,710 registered users and is adding 300,000 new users daily.