Does Excessive Online Commenting Undermine Your Writing Skills?
December 11, 2019
Online comment sections or forums are internet hot-spots where individuals can anonymously express themselves. By using a pseudonym, site visitors make comments about any and everything. However, if you're a professional writer - if you're getting paid for your work you're a professional writer - the comment section can easily become a distraction and a detriment to your writing skills...if you're not careful. However, much depends on the forum.
There are intellectually stimulating forums that provide valuable information. Nevertheless, this article will focus on the more trendy forums. It's much like the difference between watching a complex spy movie and a comedy series. One keeps your mind on the plot while the other is more roguish.
Getting Too Comfortable
Whether you comment daily - most of us have our favorite sites we routinely check - or only occasionally, you probably cut-corners when it comes to grammar. What do I mean by cutting-corners? Well, most likely when commenting online you use colloquial language while proper grammar simply goes out the window. It's easier and faster to write "TBH" instead of "To Be Honest" or "IONO" instead of "I Don’t Know," or "IJK" instead of "I'm Just Kidding," or "Fam" instead of family.
These abbreviated terms a.k.a (also known as) acronyms are a necessary evil. For some reason, there’s something comforting about using them. Besides, you might be labeled a troll and canceled -ignored or banned - simply for using words in their correct form and interrupting the flow of the thread. Shameful, yes I know.
In fact, there are emojis - small digital images used to express an emotion or thought - used in place of words. For example, if someone accuses you of capping - which means lying - they may simply add a baseball cap emoji to their message!
But, you are a freelance writer remember? There’s work to be done and deadlines to meet. Time is of the essence. There’s no time to properly place periods, commas, make use of conjunctives, whether to capitalize or not, and all that good stuff while commenting on a comment board!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not totally against cutting-corners when writing comments online. There are some benefits. It's similar to a new style of clothing. Not everyone can wear the latest fashion trends; however, we can mix pieces of the newer trend with our standard wardrobe to spice it up a bit. That’s basically what we do with acronyms and slang terms. We take traditional words and integrate them with fancy internet slang.
In fact, you can get a good idea about a writer's style - and maybe their age - by the terminology they use. I mean who uses the term "mumbo-jumbo" anymore? OK...I just did, but you know where I'm going with this. During its heyday, the term was a huge trend. Come to think about it. Does anyone use the word heyday anymore? Uhm...I have to look into that.
Can You Get Away With It?
AAMOF (As A Matter Of Fact) as a writer, most of your clients undoubtedly prefer that you use a more traditional style - AP style for example - of writing. Besides, readers will become confused or turned-off if you use too many abbreviated forms (AWSM) for awesome or the term off-the-chain. Don't use anything too OTT (Over The Top) but YGTI (You Get The Idea).
Some words like "chill-out" are easy to use if placed in the right context. And the letter "L" is getting a lot of traction. Posters use it when they feel someone has lost or been defeated. "Here's your L" or "Take the L and Forget About It."
Having said that, I do enjoy "memes" i.e - trends or fads in photo or gif formats usually with added text - frequently used in forums and social media platforms. Some are hilarious while others carry insightful messages.
Does Excessive Online Commenting Undermine Your Writing Skills?
Probably, but the operative word here is “excessive.” For example, have you ever worked on an assignment and decided to take an internet break? You browse a bit, go to one of your favorite sites or forums, do a bit of reading, and promptly start writing your opinion on the news of the day. After a while, you find yourself distracted and endlessly browsing.
Your writing flow has been interrupted and you need to get back on track. But too late. You came across a topic you are passionate about, made a comment, another poster replies antagonistically, and a debate ensues. It goes on unashamedly for hours…heck, even days! Then you're stuck.
Here's why your writing will suffer if you don't discipline yourself:
1. Writing is a profession that takes a lot of concentration. When you start browsing - I don't mean carrying out research for a project - and commenting online, your thoughts go off-track. Then again, you probably have to check your sanity from time to time anyway as writing is primarily a solitary profession. Commenting online gives you a sense of belonging; therefore, it can grow into an addiction.
2. Cutting-corners, as you do when writing comments on various forums, does affect your writing skills. Why? Because sub-consciously you feel that you’ve found an easier and faster way to write and because it's used on the internet so much, it must be accepted everywhere...right? No wrong!
When it comes to comprehension, tried-and-true methods work best…IMHO (In My Humble Opinion). There are instances where internet slang is appropriate for your work, but rarely, unless you're writing for a site that deals primarily with this genre.
3. If you interrupt your work to browse a bit, you could easily find yourself enthralled in a forum discussion. This could affect the task you are working on at the time.
When you are distracted, your writing becomes less coherent and effective. Read the interesting article here by a writer who addresses the effect that commenting on social media had on her life.
4. If you can't control yourself, well...you’re in trouble. It may be hours before you can actually focus on your work again. Not only that you have a deadline to meet - which you will probably miss anyway.
Are you going to ask your client for an extension? Once will probably be OK. However, it’s not your client’s fault that you can’t control your online rambling.
Above all, be extra cautious when making your online rounds. If you are a full-time writer, your livelihood probably depends upon your income from your work. It’s best to set time aside only for writing and a special time for your leisure online activities.
If you're really desperate, there are apps like LeechBlock and StayFocused that will help you block yourself from certain websites and apps for better self-control. Hey, I didn’t want to go there but DTCDM (Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures). Yeah, I just made that one up. In any case, don't feel bad. I’ve been there myself a time or two. GL (Good Luck)