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Because Internet summary

Gretchen McCulloch

Understanding the New Rules of Language

4.1 (138 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch explores the evolution of internet language and how it has changed communication. It explains the cultural impact and the importance of understanding internet language in our daily interactions.

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    Because Internet
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    The internet precipitated an eruption of informal writing.

    If we consider writing for a second, most of us think of books, magazines and newspapers. For the vast majority of us, these mediums were how we acquired and sharpened our reading skills. As for actually writing, we usually cut our teeth with school essays and exam papers. 

    Now, there’s nothing wrong with these mediums, but they all have an important thing in common: they’re all types of formal writing.  

    Formal writing doesn’t just mean serious political journalism or dense academic articles – it’s any kind of edited prose that emphasizes form, often at the expense of immediate flair and creative flow. This includes self-editing, too: you might not have had the luxury of a copy editor combing through your tenth-grade English essay, but when writing, you were conscious of following the rules of proper spelling, grammar and syntax. 

    For a long time, the vast majority of what anyone read was formal writing. After all, it costs money to print things with paper and ink – why waste cash on misspelled words and stodgy sentences? But things changed late last century, when the internet and mobile phones arrived.

    These technologies dramatically expanded the amount of writing in everyday life, making it a day-to-day necessity for ordinary people. Phone calls gradually lost ground to emails and text messages. To reach an audience of thousands, you didn’t need to make it past the scrutiny of an editor anymore – you just needed to start a blog. 

    And to compose these new daily messages, we used a different style of language: informal writing. This is immediate and unselfconscious writing, untouched by either newspaper editors or our own internal ones. When we text, or converse in internet chat rooms, it’s raw and conversational – just as if we were speaking. 

    This explosion in informal writing began to change the nature of communication, and even language itself. 

    Acronyms, for example, are common ways to save space in formal writing – think NASA or NATO. And since the informal writing explosion, acronyms have been repurposed by the masses for the same reason, but with very different results. Today, most people know that “BTW” stands for “by the way,” and “OMG” is shorthand for “oh my god.”

    In this way, the rules of language are no longer handed down to us from figures of authority, like teachers and dictionary editors. With the internet, we’ve all become involved in crafting new forms of expression.

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    What is Because Internet about?

    It’s common knowledge that the internet has profoundly changed society, and Because Internet (2019) looks at one specific and significant change: how online culture has transformed the English language. These blinks show how the web has created new linguistic rules, remixed old ones and democratized writing itself. Along with these shifts, prepare to explore the memes, emoji and demographic makeup of the internet.  

    Because Internet Review

    Because Internet (2019) explores the fascinating world of internet language and how it's shaping communication in the digital age. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides insightful analysis and research findings that shed light on the evolution of internet language and its impact on our daily lives.
    • Combining linguistic expertise with personal anecdotes, the book offers a unique perspective that makes it both relatable and informative.
    • Its exploration of internet culture and memes keeps the reader engaged, proving that the study of language can be far from boring.

    Who should read Because Internet?

    • Language nerds fascinated by recent changes in English
    • Inflexible grammarians clinging on to past practices
    • Parents consistently baffled by their children’s text messages

    About the Author

    Gretchen McCulloch is an author, journalist and linguist with a special interest in digital culture and internet language. She writes the Resident Linguist column for the magazine Wired, runs a blog called All Things Linguistic and co-produces the podcast Lingthusiasm. This is her first book. 

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    Because Internet FAQs 

    What is the main message of Because Internet?

    The main message of Because Internet explores the evolution and impact of internet language and how it shapes our communication.

    How long does it take to read Because Internet?

    The reading time for Because Internet varies, but it typically takes several hours. However, you can read the Blinkist summary in just 15 minutes.

    Is Because Internet a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Because Internet is worth reading for its insightful exploration of how the internet has transformed language and communication.

    Who is the author of Because Internet?

    The author of Because Internet is Gretchen McCulloch.

    What to read after Because Internet?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Because Internet, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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