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Has Social Media Tightened Your Writing Style?

Posted Mar 30, 2011 10:43 AM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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Last week at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, Greg Lambert noted a New York Times op-ed from a college English professor who sees value in very short compositions.

"My ideal composition class would include assignments like 'Write coherent and original comments for five YouTube videos, quickly telling us why surprised kittens or unconventional wedding dances resonate with millions,' and 'Write Amazon reviews, including a bit of summary, insight and analysis, for three canonical works we read this semester (points off for gratuitous modern argot and emoticons),' " wrote Andy Selsberg, who teaches English at John Jay College.

The column made Lambert realize that his and others' correspondence has evolved to be more concise over time. "Many will blame Twitter for the reduction in the length of communications, but as I think about it, this has been an evolving process for a number of years … most likely starting with the boom in email communications starting in the mid-1990s," he wrote. "I think back over the years to the memos I’ve written for bosses, judges, professors, deans, associates, and partners and I’ve recognized that my writing style has gone from lengthy paragraphs (five-paragraph essay), to bullet-point sentence fragments, to what it is today; a short, concise sentence or two that explains the situation and either leaves an open-ended question to be answered, or points to another document that gives a further explanation."

This made us wonder if you've noticed the same thing about your writing.

So tell us: Has social media tightened your writing style? Has the time you've spent to craft those perfect, witty comments on Facebook, Twitter, and ABAJournal.com made you a more pithy and to-the-point writer all around? If so, is it a good or bad thing? And has social media also perhaps decreased your attention span for longer pieces of correspondence or published writing?

Answer in the comments.

Read the answers to last week's question: How Formal or Informal Are You in Your Interactions with Your Clients?

Featured answer:

Posted by JME: "No longer have an office, so usually meet clients at their home or over coffee at a casual location. They seem to like it. I usually wear jeans, cowboy boots, hat, but I do put on a polo or other fairly nice shirt when I go out. I like to wear a long coat, so it hides my gun, and have yet to have a client complain about that, either. I do wear a suit to court, of course. Don’t have corporate clients, just family and bankruptcy stuff. I think my clients prefer an attorney who is like them."

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