Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch: nonfiction book review

Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch

Overview: Gretchen McCulloch is a linguist interested in a subfield of language that's often not taken seriously: how we use words online. And not even just words but emojis, memes, and all the other various weird forms of expression we use online. With an honest appreciation of someone who understands the power of the internet and its sub-communities, this is a really thoughtful and well rounded book, even as it is five years old and therefore ancient in terms of the internet. It covers the foundations and histories of internet communication in a thorough and open way that continues to keep it relevant. Overall: 4

I have a real love for linguistics books written for a general audience about somewhat niche pop culture topics. This book reminds me a lot of Wordslut where you learn a lot, but the writing is also super engaging and feels current and thoughtful. Odds are, you haven't spent much time considering how you change the way you wield language online and how that might vary in public posts vs private chats or composing a business email instead of a text message. From how we understand memes to our use of emojis, we've probably rarely considered how our understanding came to be, just intuiting their meaning from being frequent internet users, but there's actually a lot to document in how language changes when we move online. 

At this point, the internet has been around long enough that there's even been changes in the meanings and usage of certain online only terms. For instance, lol started off as LOL, laugh out loud, for when something made you actually laugh. But these days, I'll end a sentence that's a half joke or sarcastic or just needs to seem less serious than it might appear on its own with lol. It feels like a punctuation mark or a tone indicator more than me telling anyone I've laughed out loud. Now, there are other ways we prefer to tell people that their message made us actually laugh. These nuances and so much more are explored in thoughtful detail in this book. This was a lot of fun and also made me appreciate the world the internet has developed into even more. Language is a fascinating thing, and this book strikes the perfect balance of teaching new things and having fun. 

More Like This:

Wordslut review

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