Good things about Writing for the Machine (a.k.a. social media):
- It’s taught me to write and edit faster. It’s crazy to spend a lot of time on a piece of text that has a lifespan measured in hours, so I try not to do that. I write the comment, proofread it, then make a quick decision to delete or to post.
- It’s taught me to be more concise. The Twitter character limit isn’t as restrictive as it used to be, but it still forces me to leave out the weakest words. Adverbs are the first to go, followed by conjunctions and adjectives.
- It’s reminded me how perilous cliches can be. We’ve all heard the advice “Avoid cliches like the plague,” but the temptation to use our favorites is still strong. Where the danger lies is that we never know which ones the reader has begun to react negatively to. On social media, the most popular ones soon become the most cringe-worthy. I can’t stand the phrases “Thanks for coming to my TED Talk,” “Fixed it for you,” and “Let that sink in for a minute.” It also drives me nuts to see periods used for emphasis (“Fixed. It. For. You.”). I’ve seen all of these too many times. They’re not witty or fun or interesting anymore. They’re smug and lazy.
Bad things about Writing for the Machine:
- I might have learned to write faster, but keeping up with social media still eats up a lot of my day. I have better things to do with my time.
- Having learned to write more concisely and to avoid cliches can only be counted as beneficial if I apply those skills to other writing endeavors, which I don’t.
- Social media is often an angry, depressing place. There are better sources for news, better ways to socialize, and better methods for expressing my political views.