This fall I began taking a 100 level course geared towards assimilating communication over social media, with all its particularities such as emoticons, neologisms, and abbreviations, into a genre of prose. Meaning that it is basically attempting to theorize the specific language of messaging and of online communication, and relegate it into a genre of writing. Incidentally, I was fine with all this, until I found out that our first assignment was confined to the distinction of a blog essay, solely meant to be exposed over social media, which I am now hotly disputing over social media.
In the first lecture of my 104w Introduction to Prose Genres class, my professor boldly stated that the argumentative essay is a hundred years out of date. Consequently, his guidelines for our first assignment consisted of writing no more than 1600 bits of textual information to post at our preferred social media site. In lecture a week afterword he stated that students are welcome, and perhaps even encouraged to not follow conventional grammar rules in their blog essays. Requiring my tutorial leader to then clarify that one must break these rules of grammar only if one wishes to use a ‘neologism’ (which is a new word or common phrase used in a new or non traditional way). And that one could not excuse spelling mistakes as the bending of grammar conventions. I wholeheartedly agreed with her, and appreciate the use of neologisms, yet I do also believe in the use of grammar, not only as something foundational to a commonality in language, but as something that allows for eloquence and concision in prose, if used properly.
That is to say I do not have a problem with split infinitives and the like, rather with obvious mistakes and abbreviations that detract from one’s ability to understand the text, and also appreciate it as a piece that is well written with properly chosen diction and syntax etc…Believing as I do that grammar not only demonstrates an understanding of linguistic style, but gives credibility to one’s piece of writing as a piece of honed and edited expression.
I as well felt the need to contend his adamant belief in writing a blog meant for social media exposure as being more important than a traditional argumentative essay. Considering how important traditional essays are simply as devices for practicing one’s skills of sentence formulation, syntax, grammar, and language style. For if such traits are not developed in an English department writing intensive class, in which other class or department will they be administered?
Leading me to contend that any essay for an English related course, if it is to be considered as such, should contain at least some of the qualities of the argumentative essay. Those being: a thesis, the use of a literary structural form, which best expresses the desired opinions with emphasis upon clarity, and a representation of factual information so required to support said opinions. For though many writing based vocations such as those involved in print news are desisting because of the internet, we should still uphold clear, refined writing as a respectable skill, and contrast everything we read and write with examples of professional writing in mind.