A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through an online news site when a preview for an article popped up, titled “Does Writing Well Matter Anymore?” I think I actually stopped breathing for a second as I scrolled quickly past the article, too nervous to even read the first paragraph. This was my degree—my life—in question, but I couldn’t help but wonder: Was it a relevant question? Were there actually people who didn’t think that the quality of writing didn’t matter?
In a world where every other argument focuses on fake news, and social media threads spread like wildfire, it’s easy to feel engulfed by discount writing, because it’s everywhere. With free news sites using Instagram and Facebook for marketing, any company can get their content into readers’ hands with ease. One tweet—true or false—and you’ve gone viral.
Social media is an amazing tool, but its capacity to support thoughtful writing is still vastly undeveloped. For people who don’t blog, write vocationally or have an outlet, the pressure to express their thoughts in as few short, simple sentences as possible is high, because their sole outlet has a capacity of 140 characters. While social media may limit the number of words we can use to express ourselves, it shouldn’t stunt our perception of quality writing.
“Yes, being able to say something quickly and in a small format is handy, but what of truly graceful, powerful, precise expression of complex ideas?” says Dr. Keith Gogan, assistant professor of English at Oral Roberts University. “Plato, Jesus, Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not text or use Twitter—thank God for that.”
So, does writing well still matter, even if you’re not a writer? Gogan absolutely believes it does.
“Today’s employers are looking not only for the skills specific to a particular discipline or job; they want people with broad skills, ‘soft skills,’ adaptable skills,” he says, “and writing is one of those.”
It’s hard not to accept the easy-to-read, Buzzfeed-style articles that are prevalent on social media, but trading in easy-access writing for well-thought out prose can change your whole perception of what it means to write, and write well. But in order to find well-written prose of any kind, you have to search for it. Lucky for our generation, the internet is full of promise.
“Good writing is good writing, regardless of the medium. Some electronic news outlets contain fine writing; some do not,” says Gogan.
In every vocation, every job and every day of life, writing is utilized. Whether you’re scribbling out memos, writing children’s books or something in between, having the ability to partake in writing well is essential in judging what content we choose to consume.