Hello, grammar fiends! Long time, no talk. It’s been a crazy summer filled with vacations and work and editing and all sorts of things that equal me being absent from this place for many months. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of regular posting, and I appreciate you all sticking with me!
A few weeks ago, I read the book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. Anyone else read that one? It touched on many topics that I, as an editor and general reader of things, found chilling and fascinating all at once. One of the things Carr discussed in the book is how our use of the internet and in general the technology of computers has changed the way we view our words. Here’s what he says:
“Our indulgence in the pleasures of informality and immediacy has led to a narrowing of expressiveness and a loss of eloquence.” (p. 108)
Agree or disagree? I think you’d have to be crazy not to agree with his sentiment that we’re losing our eloquence and care for the written word with the advance of texting, instant messages, and online self-publishing. That includes blogging too, because anyone can have a blog, and some are quite terrible. We don’t feel the need to take the care to edit and revise before we hit “publish” because we know that we can always go back and revise our work. But is that to the detriment of our “expressiveness and eloquence,” as Carr states?
I think so, at least a little bit.
I came across someone recently who self-publishd a book on Amazon. She told me that she didn’t even get an editor to read it over before she put it online, because she could just take it down and upload it again if she found errors that needed changing. On one hand, it’s great that we do have the technology available to fix those pesky errors we always find after we publish something. But on the other hand, this is making us lazy! It’s making us care less about getting it right the first time. It’s making us not see editing as an important part of the publishing process.
Carr does not really offer a solution to this problem. Ultimately, I think it’s up to us to change. We need to be aware of the tendency to hit “publish” too fast when maybe it needs up one more read-through. We need to use our words wisely and not just rely on the “edit” button to fix what we should have gotten right the first time.
What do you think? Do you agree that our technology is negatively impacting publishing? Do we not take enough care with our words the first time because of the ability to edit them later?