Why texting is not necessarily detrimental to your writing

Find a teenager and you’ll find someone staring down at a small screen.

The days of people communicating face-to-face seem to be over, or at least, waning. Texting is the new conversation vehicle, and it is not limited to teenagers and 20-somethings. We all do it. When I was in journalism school, I was taught something very basic about the art of writing. If you want to write better, then write more. The more you practice something, the better you’ll get at it. This applies not only to writing, but to almost everything.

We all know the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell in which he makes the case that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to get really good at something. He cites the Beatles having played for 10,000 hours sharpening their skills before becoming the sensation they became. Of course he doesn’t talk about the other bands who also practiced for 10,000 hours and went into obscurity. I guess talent also plays a role. Since texting is so prevalent among young people, many have wondered whether the abbreviations and bad grammar inherent in texting will cause young people to be poor writers. It is one thing to not practice writing, yet another to write poorly on a screen. After all, friends don’t judge their friend’s grammar so there is no incentive to text with proper language and grammar.

But is texting detrimental to good writing? Recent research has indicated no. One need only look at the competitiveness of getting into college to see that young people understand that when it counts, they know how to write. It seems that young people have a writing schism. They write one way when texting and another when it matters. So parents don’t fear. When your child needs to complete a college application or resume for that first job, they’ll understand that rules were meant to be broken when texting. And not when it matters.

The next favorite CNN crime story?

Justin Ross Harris is a 33 year old man in Georgia who is on trial for leaving his 22 month old son in his car all day.  The child died and Harris is on trial for murder.

The trial has received widespread media coverage from the start, with CNN covering live the “probable cause hearing” where a judge determined there was enough evidence for the prosecution to seek an indictment.

During the hearing, which lasted one day, it was revealed by police that there was more to the story than a father forgetting his child in a hot car.  The Father had searched Google for information on people dying in hot cars, living a child-free life, and legal terminology.  Further, police testified that while his child was in the car in 80+ degree weather, the father was at work sexting either women he had met online.

CNN is all over the story, as it was with Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias and select others.  At the same time CNN ran a story that in 2013 alone, more than 40 children died in cars when parents forgot about them.  In fact, they interviewed a woman who was prosecuted for doing just that and was found not guilty.  So why is the Harris trial getting so much attention?

It almost seems like the major media need certain elements to be in place for them to find a story worth following.  The Casey Anthony story centered on a young, attractive woman who liked to party.  Jodie Aria is also young and very attractive and her story included sex, lies and tremendous violence.  Perhaps it has nothing to do with it, but the case of the other woman who was acquitted didn’t contain sordid details of sex.  Boring TV.

The Harris story now seems to be much more than a forgotten child.  Police allege Harris was leading a secret life by sexting other women, one of which was under age.  Harris and his wife were having financial problems and marital issues.  They took out life insurance policies on their child.  On and on. Almost as if CNN knew all these salacious details before they came out in court.

Unless something dramatic changes, like a plea deal, Justin Ross Harris is about to become the next Casey Anthony story.

And you can be sure that CNN will be there gavel to gavel.