The Effect Contemporary Digital Culture has on the English Language


Most of our communication on a day to day basis takes place via social media and technology, social media is generally an informal hub for communication which means that we speak to each other in a very informal way. Incorporating words used by websites and apps like Facebook and twitter into our daily conversations.  Using digital technology on a daily basis hugely effects how we speak, seeing our language typed on a screen, be it social media talk or proper english, it becomes inbedded into our minds and our vocabulary. This is how the words like catfish, unlike, selfie, twerk, derp, photobomb, tweet, TL;DR, sext, omg, noob & unfriend have made it into our dictionaries and the English language.

Not only have new words become an integral part of communication, but the use of emoticons like “:)” and acronyms such as “LOL” add useful elements of non-verbal communication to a conversation. Interesting fact, LOL is celebrating its 27th birthday this year. Who would have thought that this internet inspired slang has been around for that long!

Facebook is notorious for the reappropriation of already existing words. For example profile, like, share, friend, status and wall are words that mean something to us, but thanks to face books reuse of the words, they now mean something slightly different. Even the use of the word troll, which used to be a fictional character that hides under a bridge. Now a troll is someone who makes offensive comments online. No longer do words have to be published through traditional platforms to be recognised and accepted as a word that will be used by the masses.

We have become speed freaks, always looking to communicate in the fastest and quickest way possible. Cutting down words to acronyms like ttyl, ily & wbu to cut down conversation length and language. On Twitter there’s a 140 character limit, so even if you’re not against the clock you are quite literally forced to make the statement brief. Even online popular brands have become part of our language, for example Google. A common phrase, “I’ll google it”.



Copy-Paste Culture


Before digital technology, copy and paste only existed really by using paper and a scissors. Cutting and pasting images to create a collage, or re-make of someone else work. But now thanks to the widespread use of technology, anyone can remix present work to create new and sometimes better versions.

Copying is seen as something negative and bad, something non-creative. With copyrights there to protect certain works. When you post anything online or digitalise it, it can become extremely hard to protect your work. Be it an image, simply screenshot or save to your computer. Copying is a negative sector of our culture.

or is it?

Nothing is ever completely creative or new. All our ideas come from present things. Adaptations, but things that exists already in the world. Copying things you find in the digital world can be completely positive. Most of the best creations come from things that already exist. With royalty free music, images etc. we can create things that will benefit our digital culture. Copying will help everyone out, simply adapting something to make it better will leave it open for someone in the future to adapt and make it even better again!



Instagram Culture

cool-instagram-bios-quotes2.1 billion of the worlds population own smartphones. That means 2.1 billion people have access to their own personal cameras. The ownership of cameras previous to smartphones had been seen as a token of wealth and knowledge. Being able to afford such expensive technologies set you apart from the crowd. If you took great photos, you were a great photographer. You had skills that the majority didn’t, you stood out.

But not anymore. You are now merely but a dot amongst a world of dots. Anyone with a smartphone now has access to a camera. And with apps like Instagram, we can now all feel like professional photographers. Documenting all of our life events and converting photos of cardboard coffee cups into works of art. We follow friends, acquaintances and celebrities, watching their every move (or upload even) with adoration and appreciation. But these photos aren’t completely real. They are half-truths and optimizations of life.

Like I mentioned above, something simple like grabbing a cup of coffee can be converted from an everyday event to an artistic affair. By adding a bit of HDR, vignette, tilt and shift and slapping a filter onto an aesthetically pleasing image,  you can create an image of perfection, making our lives seem interesting and desirable. When in reality all it is is a shitty cardboard cup that costs approximately €0.07 to make embellished with a Starbucks  coffee logo.

We all do it, the square 1080 by 1080 pixel frame allows us to hide things from the photo that we feel will devalue our personal image. You could post an image of a bedroom, that looks like a showroom designed by the best interior artist. But what the viewer doesn’t see is the messy unpainted and unfinished ensuite cropped out by the square frame.

Whats funny is that we believe what we see on Instagram to be real, and not as heavily manipulated as magazines. Probably because we know the photographers, we believe the images to be truths. Adriana Mariella from says, “we’re breeding a culture of people who are not only fascinated with looking, but are also permanently aware that they are being looked at”[2]. I think this is a true statement of the contemporary digital culture we live in.

Instagram is changing the relationship between people and photography. “Photography can be considered a powerful tool for expressing feelings and for telling about important life events to a large number of people” [1.] Not only are we expressing our feelings and boasting about life events, we are hiding and manipulating our lives to create an image of ourselves to seem better and completely desirable.


  1. It is not just a picture: Revealing some user practices in Instagram
  2. How Instagram Is Affecting The Way We Perceive Ourselves And The World Around Us

Attention versus Isolation


We are a digital society, with a constant need for communication. Being able to connect with people at any given time is important to us. So important that we spend approximately 27 hours a week online. 27 hours! Thats one full day without taking our eyes off our phones/laptops/tvs to communicate with the people and world around us.



Why do we love communicating via media you ask?

Well its a relatively simple, yet worrying answer.

We enjoy not having to engage in human interaction as much as we used to. Mediated communication has become so popular among our culture. By using social media and the internet we can connect with people at any time we want, without the hassle of meeting face to face. Using digital forms of communication such as: texting, video chatting, Snapchat, social networks & blogging. By doing so we can hide behind our phones and screens without having to leave our homes.

It’s worrying because we are becoming so dependant on mediated communication instead of face-to-face interaction. This will inevitably, if it hasn’t already, lead to the decline in verbal and social skills. Not only will we loose out on two very basic and characteristic skills of a human, but the lack of face-to-face communication means human expression and warmth will not show through in the online world. This leads to miscommunication and misinterpretation of exchanged messages.

You can be who you want online, you can get attention, be heard and never be alone, if you want. But this popular and well conversed person online could be the loneliest and most isolated person in the real world. People can become so invested online, that they forget how to communicate in real life with people face-to-face. Leading to lack of social skills and in return, lack of relationships.

Your online profile could have 2,000 friends, but you may only have a handful of real life relationships.


Topics of interest

I decided to compile a list of topics that interest me in the area of Contemporary Digital Culture. I will write posts based on some of the titles in this list, and possibly some that I haven’t written about down bellow.

My main topic of focus is:

The effect digital media has on humans


These are subtopics that fall under my chosen topic:

  • Instagram culture
  • The need to be able to communicate at any given moment
  • How media practices impact what we see as normal and affects society’s values (Mediated Society – a critical sociology of media)
  • What is culture? What is Digital?
  • People living in the same house or workplace can all be looking at different screens and communicating with different people. Changes how we interact with each other, and the common place of interaction (online forums).
  • “As we expect more from technology; we start to expect less from each other”- Sherry Turkle
  • Hide behind our phones, yet even more connected
  • Talking online is less personal and heeds no effort for human interaction
  • Relationship with technology
  • Technology provides us with an illusion of comfort and of being in control
  • Online you can get attention, be heard & never be alone
  • Or you can be isolated
  • Affect Accessibility has on individuals and businesses
  • Copying and replication
  • People are: more open, use less filters Vs. heavily filter themselves
  • More intimate relationship with celebrities
  • Should children learn to programme from a young age?


Interesting Articles: