This rant came about in a discussion thread about fanfic peeves. It wasn't entirely on topic, but I said things I've been thinking for a while so I thought I'd share. It was in direct response to Gen Xer who was lamenting the current plethora of fic out there written by people who do not have a command of the English language. She postulated it had to do with a culture raised on watching rather than reading. I whole heartedly agree.
I'm a member of the generation immediately following yours, having been born in the early eighties, charmingly dubbed Generation Y (or, by people who fancy themselves witty, Generation Why?). I'm of the last generation of kids to get through school without ready access to cellular phones, let alone text messaging.
But my generation did popularize instant messaging and, with it, chat-lingo. Horrific spelling and abysmal grammar began to take the place of well formed sentences not simply out of laziness but because of a burgeoning new culture that sought to identify itself with its own idiosyncrasies. This new shorthand became a way to keep older people out and thereby preserve the playing field for those the generation decided worthy of inclusion: more Gen Yers.
I was a bit of an anomaly - perhaps a hybrid, a bridge between my boomer parents and what would come behind me. There were others like me, but I feel like we were largely outnumbered. I was a voracious reader in large part because my mother was and that's the culture I was raised in. Like you, it was commonplace to find the television on in my house and mom and I splitting our attentions between books and whatever program was on. My father wasn't a reader. His medium of choice was most certainly television. And now, while I likely watch more television than most - both as research for my studies and simple entertainment - I still read far more than most people I know. Because of this I tend to socialize with other readers. My group of friends, as a matter of fact, have a book club. But I digress.
I also tend to spend large amounts of time online. Mostly reading, as it happens. I'm not a youtube watcher - I'm a fic reader. And I, too, have noticed an alarming propensity towards the absolute slaughter of the English language. A lot of writers seem to write in conversational English (when they bother to choose the correct words and phrases at all). What I miss most when reading fic, and to some extent popular modern fiction, is the air of literary abandon taken by those that have a command of the language. I don't mind when dialogue sounds natural, but the prose in between should paint a picture, not slash graffiti across the wall of my imagination.
I worry for what is yet to come. I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. As the educational system gets lost in a flurry of test prep we begin to lose the finesse of education. The sweet thrill of knowledge is pushed aside for the fast-food nature of fact regurgitation. I'm afraid for the Millennials because the ability to paint pictures with words is something that must be cultivated. Something that now must be desired and learned on their own. I'm afraid the desire just won't be there as it gets lost in the ability to type sixty words a minute on a touch screen and abbreviate all words to their three most descriptive consonants. I'm afraid more than spelling and grammar will be lost in the translation.