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Mean Girls: Social Media To Blame for Terse Communication?
By: Christine Geraci
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Today's young girls are channeling their inner b*tches thanks to Facebook and Twitter, says Marie Clair of the Plain English campaign.
 
According to her comments, made in this UK Daily Mail article, young people in general — and particularly, women — are adopting more terse, aggressive communication styles thanks to the fast-paced nature of the social networking sites they are growing up with. Further, using communication mechanisms that encourage more abbreviated forms of communication makes girls in particular seem more rude.
 
That combination of fast pace and brevity means young people no longer have the time to deliberate and choose their words wisely, Clair says. It's more commonly noticed in girls because they communicate much more than men do, she adds. 
 
 
And if I may, here's my take: Ms. Clair, I respectfully disagree. On all points. 
 
This phenomenon is not a side effect of social media use. This is a classic case of young people thinking it's OK to act differently online than they do in person. 
 
Young girls in particular can certainly be mean. Social networking sites make it easier for anyone to be mean because he or she does not have to look the victims of verbal malice in the eye. In fact, I'm willing to wager a lot of what young people say online wouldn't be repeated in person.
 
Further, I would contend that social networking sites actually make it EASIER for young people to choose their words. It's a coveted skill indeed to think on your feet and snap back effectively when confronted in person, in the moment. I don't know many adults who can do it, let alone children. But when you're on your computer or mobile device, you can easily digest what's in front of you, ruminate on it and then craft your response. You can't do that when someone's staring you in the face waiting for your comeback. 
 
Again, the difference is that everybody's a little braver when they don't have to physically look someone in the face when lobbing verbal grenades.
 
Perhaps parents, guardians, and other role models need to better educate children about the art of communicating effectively, whether it's in person or via social networking sites. It is indeed possible in 140 characters or less, although misinterpretations will happen, as they do when communicating in the flesh. 
 
You see, Ms. Clair, social media is not to blame here. Young people are. Young people are still learning how to effectively communicate. They desperately want to fit in. And sometimes, ironclad support system or not, they will act like complete heathens if they think it will secure them social acceptance. Just ask Karen Klein
 
And by the way, I'd be willing to say all of this in person. 
 
What do you think of Marie Clair's claim? 


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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