Finalists Debate The Impact Of Social Media On The Quality of Written Expression

It was a fierce battle, last Wednesday afternoon, as the Alexandra Secondary School and the St. Michael’s School, battled for supremacy over the moot which posited,’The Extensive Use of Social Media Has a Negative Impact on the Quality of Written Expression’, during the Finals, of the first ever, Barbados Accreditation Council (BAC) National Secondary School Debate Competition.

This competition, managed to attract six schools, when it was launched two weeks, ago and held three preliminary rounds, which saw the students  debating the merits of the then moot, which suggested, ‘The Inclusion of Technology in the class room increases student engagement  ‘’During the first round, the  Frederick Smith Secondary School, defeated the Princess Margaret Secondary School, and in Round Two the St.Michael’s School, holding supremacy over their St. Michael counterpart, the Harrison College. It was in Round 3 of these preliminary debates, that the Alexandra team, triumphed over the Springer Memorial School, and out of the three winners, the two teams with the highest scores were chosen to battle it out at the Finals, which was held at the Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union Ltd., Belmont road , St.Michael.

With the team hailing from Alexandra, the ‘YAPS’  which stands for ‘Young Articulate Public Speakers’, as the Proposition, the St. Michael’s team, the ‘SMS dynamic Speakers’ argued as Opposition.

With both teams emphatically delivering their points, it was a truly interesting debate, and the students and teachers who came  out to spectate and observe were on tenterhooks, as to which school would rise supreme and take home the big trophy. 

The Alexandra team, held to the points that were evident during their own research and was supported by other authoritative research; Social media was indeed addictive and impacted negatively on the individual’s writing ability to clearly express themselves in Standard English. 

As noted by Proposition leader, Isobella Burhnham, “Practice Makes Perfect!” 

Citing that many youths spent up to 15 hours a day on Social media, she explained that no matter where one turned, the impact of the extended usages were evident, especially as it had made its way into the formal written expression.

“The language we use daily,- which is social media language-, the one we have practiced for so long is tearing apart the very fabric of the standard english, leaving us sometimes totally confused with what the message communicated,” she stated. 

Continuing, she noted, “This extensive use continues, and it has bad habits, which will cement and these are irreversible writing habits, then it will be too late to do something about it, muscle memory would have taken over and practice would evidently become permanent. 

It is critical that the user of social media manages his addiction, in order to keep expression standard, if we do this, the ingrained practice would not become permanent”. 

For the Opposition, Social media was seen as a mere tool, and the user, made his own choice as to how he used it, but they stressed that the user had to stop blaming social media for their own actions, and simply be more responsible. 

“It is a tool, an inanimate object, used to assist people to create, share and exchange information. There seems to be a trend in blaming inanimate objects for one’s actions. My understanding from this, is when all else fails, blame technology,” charged Opposition leader Janae Kelman. 

Continuing ,she noted, “People choose to write the appropriate form based on the appropriate settings. Social media must be found innocent of this charge! It has not negatively impacted on the quality of written expression, though it is used excessively, it is not responsible for the decline in writing skills for our people. I urge you to manage your addiction”. 

It was never a truer case of not envying the judges their decision, over who won this heated debate, but in the end there could only be the one, and that one was none other than the Alexandra Secondary School, who kept their cool under fire and clearly outlined and emphasised their points! Not bad for a team, which was born out of an amalgamation of the Drama and Debate clubs!