First, let me apologize for one of my questions. I guess I did not finish the last chapter of part 4, and it seems to cover it enough where the rest is more sociology than what we are discussing (in reference to my question about online contributions to individuals' personal problems such as debt).
I think Emily makes a really good point in her experiences in Italy, and to possibly answer a question or two about etiquette and language. Last semester I wrote a paper on this, how online interactions may be affecting our communication skills. One thing I notice a lot is a younger people (I do not know many, however) are unable to formulate ideas verbally. I would like to blame this on the fact that instant messaging and emailing are not taken as a formal way of communication, and a lot of people use it to communicate now. How many people do you know who are writing an email in letter style? Or even with punctuation and capitalization for that matter? These may be subtle things, emailing friends, etc, but if it is so commonplace, I think it almost begins to take over our speech as well. I think the informalization of our language has worked its way into several other aspects of our society, such as the workplace (not many wear business suits or "dress up" nowadays - from my own experience).
I am curious to see how other nations, such as Italy, have changed if at all. I know some of you may be thinking that it is the natural course of a spoken language to change, and that is true. But this type of change is a little different because it seems to be more of a lack of grammar than a changing of word meanings and word additions. Maybe the digital divide can also be seen as those who can maintain formality while using the Internet, and those who are caught up in the fast pace slang language of the gtg/ttyl/brb/lol style and cannot separate that with the real world (or at least spoken language). Where television and radio invites us into the "upper class" speech, does the Internet (instant message/email)bring us back down? Is it possibly creating another language divide then?