Media Responsibility and Learning.

I often cringe when I read what people share on social media. Aside from the inner proofreader that was so necessary as a youth, I run across things like, “TTPS: Illegal entry into T&T is a crime“.

What else is illegal that is a crime? 

If the goal was to make the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service look illiterate – mission accomplished. If the goal was to make The Morning Brew, a local program, look a bit foolish – mission accomplished. And it’s there for all the world to see.

If you watch the video, though, the headline is does not represent what was actually said – a distillation that demonstrates a lack of thought and consideration.

Who came up with this headline, and do they even understand their mistake?

This prompted me to immediately mock it, of course – pondering with a friend as to what else that is illegal might be a crime.

Murder is illegal, so is it a crime?  Littering is illegal, so is it a crime? And so on and so forth – which amused me for a few minutes, but then it struck me:

There are people who may seriously be thinking in that way.

Words have a power all their own, and the way we all learn is not by reading dictionaries but through context.

So yes, I’m picking on this particular headline, which is unfair. In a world where all too often people share without reading the associated link, we’re implicitly showing people how to communicate by example. There could be a secondary school student right now writing an essay that may reach pull the ‘illegal’ and ‘crime’ thing out of their bag unwittingly… only to be openly mocked by an English teacher and their class.

Why? Because they made the mistake of learning from a media headline.

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Language And Tech (2014)

tweet

It’s official, for better or worse: ‘Tweet’ is now recognized in the Oxford dictionary despite breaking at least one OED rule: It’s not 10 years old yet.

Big Data‘ also made it in, as did ‘crowdsourcing‘, ‘e-reader‘, ‘mouseover‘ and ‘redirect‘ (new context). There’s a better writeup in the June 2013 update of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) that also dates the use of the phrase, “don’t have a cow, man” back to 1959 – to the chagrin of Bart‘s fans everywhere, I’m sure.

As a sidenote, those that use twitter are discouraged from being twits and ‘sega’ is actually a dance from the Mascarene Islands.

It’s always interesting to watch how language evolves and sometimes it’s a little disturbing. I honestly don’t know how I should feel about ‘tweet’ making it in as the brand ‘twitter’ is based on the word ‘twit’… see above link… but hey. Oxford says it’s ok and twits and tweeters everywhere can now rejoice.

Image courtesy Nancy L. Stockdale and made available through this Creative Commons License.