I am not a journalist but a student (in a field relatively distant from professional writing at that) and little pushes me towards writing artfully or considering the philosophies of writing in the grand scheme of society. However, I have experienced, as probably have my colleagues, that having my name printed on an official news article monthly has affected me in my ways of perceiving our writing in society. Hereon, I wish to write on those initiated thoughts as the start of a series.
We have a problem with online writing, whether it be the currently ubiquitous yellow journalism or unabashed libel by online hooligans; with our lifestyles now too integral with the Internet, some addressing seems only necessary. However, seeing that simple closure to the problems is yet elusive, the best I can wish to accomplish here is to recognize part of what it means to write.
Writing lasts. It stays on record, and thereby scripture inherently holds more responsibility than speech does in its accountability and also functions as references to base judgments on the respective author. Just like how one is assessed by their speech, the collective writings of a society is a projection of social consciousness – in particular, of its maturity. This can be especially problematic nowadays as information technology allows users of media, such as Facebook or Twitter, to post so easily to the point where one could write anything that instinctively comes to mind without time for deeper thought. However, the ease by no means lightens the gravity held by words; Lashing out at Sotnikova, the Russian figure skater who sparked a controversy over her gold medal, during a few seconds of our commutes to respective occupations was in fact all of our society childishly harassing a single person. I wonder whether the “keyboard warriors” would have said the same things, or in fact anything if posts had to be handwritten. When it takes effort, we easily become aware of what our words can become; but when effortless and masked by the mass, some seem to overlook these same, yet remaining, responsibilities.
Writing is also a means of social growth. As hackneyed as it is, true is that each generation learns from the older. And noting that in South Korea the new generation will be growing up with web portals as the first space from which they view activity of “adults,” its contents will surely have an impact on how they envision their future share of society. Unfortunately, when one accesses common web portals, a considerable number of links lead to yellow journalism. Sex, drugs, and violence certainly sell, but it is selling only sex, drugs, and violence. Nothing more. Although portals like Naver fare better than others, when more than half the links on the main page of other major portals, such as Daum or Nate, are articles on sports, celebrity news, and yesterday night’s soap drama – which is usually a limp two line summary of its revealed plot – perhaps expecting substance from the growing members of society is undue.
What troubles me most is that I hardly see a solution where neither wrongful government enforcement nor painstaking social cooperation are required unless the responsibilities which entail writing become commonly understood. I do know, however, that we best avoid a future, and a present, where unimportant issues in the guise of intellectual work that noise out the meaningful, and where people reciprocate to society by echoing shallow words without acknowledging the responsibility that must follow. Returning to the column’s purpose, I wish the “keyboard warriors” and online news writers had known that writing means to be held indefinitely accountable for the article in existence. With that recognition, maybe the social tendency of careless writing that encourages societal problems would lessen. On that note, then is it not quite sadly comical that we can edit and delete our posts on Facebook?