Love is the reason why people want to stay healthy. It’s why they want to stay well. It’s why people feel compelled to share, to give each other emotional support, to track observations of daily living, to track how a medication treats them as an individual so others can learn from it. Because of love. Because we want to help each other.
The nature of teens’ internet use has transformed dramatically — from stationary connections tied to shared desktops in the home to always-on connections that move with them throughout the day. In many ways, teens represent the leading edge of mobile connectivity, and the patterns of their technology use often signal future changes in the adult population.
Mary Madden, Senior Researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and co-author of today’s new report on Teens & Technology.
Bonus: Join us for a live chat today with our researchers on this report.
Perhaps, suggests Michael Erard, a linguist and the author of Babel No More, we’re simply trying to incorporate aspects of verbal speech into our digital communications. “When people talk, they use intonation in a number of varied and subtle ways,” he told me. “There’s a lot of emotional nuance that can be conveyed that you can’t do in writing.”
Ben Zimmer, a linguist and lexicographer, notes that elongations, like emoticons and initialisms (OMG! LOL!), tend to flourish in those venues most starved for nuance. “When you’re dealing with IM, texting, and Twitter, those discursive functions that add to the simple message are really crucial,” he said. These tactics suggest that the process linguists call “accommodation”—the way speaking styles converge when humans talk to one another, facilitating both conversation and a sense of common identity—is not limited to spoken communication. “We’re navigating different registers all the time, finding out what’s appropriate,” Zimmer said. But “when those registers don’t match our expectations”—when our best friend begins a text with “Dear Jennifer,” or someone responds Hello to our Hiiiiiii—“that’s when we wonder if things are running afoul.