Internet emergence and the rise of social networking have transformed communication. For example, social media has had an impact on the number of information recipients individuals can communicate with, to the extent of a global scale, and the frequency of communication. Consequently, social media has had far-reaching impacts on the way people communicate in English. Notably, various changes are evident in the way people write and speak English because of the changing nature of communication in social networking platforms.
There is no doubt that English is the most dominant language people use on the internet. However, with the increasing demands of faster communication, various notable changes have occurred. People seem to always be in a rush to pass messages across sometimes without the concerns of using proper English. Fundamentally, language evolves, and this is no exception to the language used on social media. One of the most significant effects of social media on verbal and written English is the appropriation of vocabulary (Dalzell & Victor 2017). Certain words that had specific meanings are now bearing new meanings depending on the context of the application, and the extent of this phenomenon has affected verbal English communication. Dalzell & Victor 2017) argue that the English language has become more volatile with synonyms growing every day. The implication is that internet slangs, which seem to have been accepted as English words, are being used in verbal communication everywhere. For example, a "troll" or "trolling" describes the behavior of attention-seeking internet user who usually uses tiffs or outrageous comments about other people on social media. Similarly, the term "wall" refers to internet profiles where users of a social networking site share and express themselves.
Also, there is a lot of slang usage in social media, which seems to have misled many people to use incorrect spelling, grammar, and informal language. The popularity of slang has only grown to the extent that some words have become part of regular communication in English. According to the Information Resources Management Association (2016), there is the likelihood of a general weakening in proper language skills because most conversations on social media are full of abbreviations, misspelled words, and abbreviations. Hoffmann and Bublitz (2017) explain this scenario by pointing out that most social media communication is concerned with being pragmatic and that the highest priorities are accessibility and mutual comprehensibility. While, abbreviations and improper language use may be comprehensible among teens and young people, older people sometimes have problems understanding the modern informal language. However, for many people, the use of informal language as influenced by social media seems to have made English simpler, but the ability to communicate deep thoughts is perhaps eroded (Zappavigna2012).
The other notable impact of social media is that it has also introduced a new vocabulary to English communication. As noted, with the increased popularity of slang, many words have ceased being slang and have been incorporated in the mainstream English language. New terms such as "selfie," "memes," and "unfriend" are now part of daily conversations both verbal and written. Similarly, acronyms such as OMG, TBT, DM, and LOL have trickled from social media platforms to ordinary verbal and written English. These words were unheard of before in English language usage, and their popularity has been made possible by social networking sites. Some of these words have even been incorporated in English dictionaries (Horobin2018). It is worth noting that these new vocabularies are being introduced on the internet very rapidly, used excessively, and sometimes discarded at the same rate. It could be argued that this trend amounts to a lazy form of communication, but in a fast-paced society, it facilitates fast and convenient interaction (Zappavigna 2012). The negative impact on the use English language is the improper use of grammar, informal speech used in wrong contexts, and misspellings. However, on the positive side, social media seems to create a more sense of awareness of English language mistakes because some readers spot the errors and point them out through comments.
In conclusion, social media has both positive and negative impacts on how people write and speak English. The demands for faster and convenient communication have increased the propensity to make spelling mistakes, use abbreviations, and improper use of informal language. New vocabulary coined in social media has also trickled down to daily verbal conversations. Some words that were slang have even been integrated into mainstream English making it simpler to understand. Most importantly, social media has also increased awareness to proper language use.