The Art of Words


Social media is making it easier than ever to contribute to the evolution of language. You no longer have to be published through traditional avenues to bring word trends to the attention of the masses. From ‘unfriend’ to ‘selfie,’ social media is clearly having an impact on language. A case in point is Oxford Dictionaries 2013 Word of the Year, selfie: the earliest use of the word has been traced to an Australian Internet Forum.


Figure 1 Social Media’s Simple Language

What social media has done is enable us to communicate with a much larger number of people on a global scale in a way that we only really used to be able to do on a local level.  The result? An ever-increasing speed of communication.  Facebook lets you communicate quickly, effectively and, most importantly, efficiently because written exchanges are concise and shared between all the friends you are connected with. On Twitter, there’s a brief 140-character limit but with a catch, so you are quite literally forced to make the statement short.

From the introduction of new words to new meanings for old words to changes in the way we communicate, the combination of informal, personal communication and the mass audience afforded by social media is a recipe for rapid change. ‘Friended’ and ‘unfriended’ (the process of adding or removing someone from your circle of friends) are two examples of words that have been given a new meaning due to their usage on Facebook. The word ‘friend’ and ‘befriend’ is from Old English originating in the 13th Century.


Figure 2 Popular Acronyms

The use of acronyms are now commonplace substitutes to whole sentences; LOL (laugh out loud), OMG (Oh my God), TTYL (talk to you later) and emoticons (a representation of a facial expression such as a smile or frown), are a lazy form of writing used to convey what the user is feeling (Stylecaster. (n.d.) para.3).

The language of social media is having an effect on the way we use English in day-to-day life. It’s having an impact on our written and oral communications.

A whole host of words originating from social media and the wider Internet have become so commonplace that they’ve now slipped into popular usage. The Internet is reshaping our long-lost hardcover dictionary, for better or for worse, we are all in a new world of communications and most of us will have to learn the new language.


Figure 3 The New Language

What is your view on the evolution of language through social media?

Have social media’s new host of words slipped into popular usage?


Facebook Promotional Post:

Social Media’s Art of words

The evolution of language through social media

Is social media reshaping our dictionary?

Twitter Promotional Post:






Napier Lopez. September, 2016. Twitter finally relaxes 140-character limit, but with a catch. Retrieved from

Oxford dictionaries.  (2013). The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is Selfie.  Retrieved from

Stack Exchange. (n.d). English Language and Usage.  Retrieved from

Stylecaster. (n.d.).  101 Social Media Acronyms and Abbreviations (And what they mean!).  Retrieved from

Ted Camp. October 25, 2016. Have You Been “Friended” or “Unfriended”? Retrieved from



4 thoughts on “The Art of Words

  1. Thank you for an interesting read. As a writer, I’m very interested in watching language evolve, including through the impact of social media. I’m particularly fond of the evolution of acronyms in social media.

    • Thank you for finding interest in reading it. Online social media is having a profound effect on the linguistic and communicative practices in which people engage in. Language itself changes slowly, but the internet has sped up the process of those changes so you notice them more quickly. And popular acronyms like LOL are eligible for a spot in the dictionary because they’re widespread. The longer we use these acronyms the more likely you’ll find them in the dictionary.

  2. What a great post! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I have mixed feelings about the evolution of written language to online language. I think that while all language go through changes (we no longer speak the same way that Shakespeare did), the quality of writing is decreasing almost as rapidly as online language is evolving. Proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar seem to be non-existent in much of it these days. I appreciate the convenience of being able to “LOL” or “BTW” but I struggle with a lot of the rest of it.

    • Hi Liz,
      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it! Shakespeare influenced the English language by expanding the vocabulary and inventing new words. He helped standardize grammar and gave new structure to his writing. I believe if Shakespeare was alive today he would revel in acronyms, codes, initials, allusions. He would be living in a revolution of technology, and this technology engenders its own ways of saying things. He would translate his work into urban slang, after all he was a master of it.

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