As my first project in one of my journalism classes I was required to write two letters to two editors and see if I could get them published. I will have to get back to you on the published part. Right now I am just going to talk about what I wrote down. My first letter addressed the use of hashtags on popular social media site Twitter. The article ran in The Boston Globe. I wrote about my general opposition of Twitter as it is used now. In theory Twitter could be a reliable tool for the journalist, creative types, or other professionals. While it is true that it is used this way by some the plain fact of the matter is that it is mostly used to follow celebrities or friends and essentially stalk them. I also wrote about this idea of limiting yourself to a certain number of characters or words. I don’t like it. I see the appeal. I see that it isn’t easy to do and you must be inventive and/or creative to do so. I just think people should be able to express themselves as fully as possible and it seems, in today’s culture, like we are trying to express more using less and less.
Here is the letter:
As a twenty-something college student I am supposed to know all about the next new thing involving social media, technology, and the internet in general. I am opposed to the concept of Twitter. Who really needs to know I am pooping right now? I see it’s appeal for those who use it creatively or professionally.
When I think about Twitter and these other social media sites I am reminded of a quote from a certain dysoptian novel by George Orwell.
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten…Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range ofm consciousness always a little smaller.” -George Orwell, 1984
Doesn’t this quote hit a little too close to home. Maybe Facebook’s “Like” rings a bell. Soon we won’t even have the word itself. We will just have that little thumb pointing upwards. Twitter hashtags, while creative and perhaps witty, are just taking us a step closer towards a world where we think and live with the smallest amount of thought possible. I am all for creativity based on limitations on space but, at some point a line needs to be drawn. At some point we need to stop and think; Do we really need to dumb ourselves down to 140 characters or can we interact on a deeper level?
In my second letter I wrote about an article that said a study showed that students now seem to know less about history than ever before. The article was in The New York Times. I wrote about how the problem isn’t going to be solved by people doing studies and talking about it. We need to think of something new because obviously everything isn’t hunky-dorey.
Here is that letter:
As a college student in regards to “Students’ Knowledge of Civil Rights History Has Deteriorated, Study Finds” by Sam Dillon.Perhaps instead of thinking about how bad we are when it comes to learning (or teaching) history we could change the way everyone seems to think about learning. We should think about what we can do to help students learn. Should we all be expected to retain knowledge about George Wallace? Do all of you adults out there know who this man is? Did you know before you read about it in some recent article? Yes? Good. How has it helped you? I believe our history is important, but is it imperative that we know every name, every date, every time? Maybe general knowledge on a broader scope of topics would suffice. Then those who wish to continue their education can spend their time memorizing these facts from the past.
I will write a new post when I know if either if the letters get published.