American or British English: The Hyper Reality of the Internet

london ny webandrank.thumbnail American or British English: The Hyper Reality of the InternetAll bloggers know that, good-articulation and correct grammar are key factors in creating a popular blog post; but Webandrank wondered if writing in a British or American register mattered when creating web content. During our research we came across the term ‘hyper reality’ and this is fitting with what people call the ‘Americanisation‘ of the Internet.

Recently I have finished reading two particularly good ebooks the first was ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ an ancient Indian Sanskrit text written around 500BC and the second was ‘Travels in Hyper Reality’ written by Umberto Eco in 1986. Some of the prose is truly inspiring and a real breath of fresh air from the plethora of ultra modern and often dull blog posts. These books made me think about the changing landscape of literature and how important the Internet is in causing this change.

The critique of American culture in ‘Travels in Hyper Reality‘ and my years as an English teacher in Japan and Indonesia (with the endless arguments with my American colleagues about the use of English – ‘they’re definitely trousers’ ‘no they’re not, they’re pants) made me think about the differences in British and American English. I am British, and I can see just how dominated the Internet is by American English, maybe this article might offer some interesting ideas about this subject.

I thought I would quote a couple of extracts from the above mentioned books in the hope that some of you might feel the same inspiration:

“God dwells in the heart of all beings, Arjuna: thy God dwells in thy heart. And his power of wonder moves all things – puppets in the play of shadows – whirling     them onwards on the stream of time (The Bhagavad Gita)”

“There is, then, an America of furious hyperreality, which is not that of Pop art, of Mickey Mouse, or of Hollywood movies. There is another, more secret America...We can identify it through two typical slogans that pervade American advertising. The first, widely used by Coca-Cola but also frequent as a hyperbolic formula in everyday speech, is “the real thing”; the second, found in print and heard on TV, is “more” – in the sense of “extra.” The announcer doesn’t say, for     example, the program will continue” but rather that there is “More to come.”…you don’t say that cigarette A is longer than cigarette B, but that there’s “more” of it,     more than your used to having, more than you might want…This is the reason for this journey into hyperreality, in search of instances where the American     imagination demands the real thing and, to attain it, must fabricate the absolute fake (Travels in Hyper Reality)”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a particularly religious person or the sort of person that hates America, but anyway. This kind of writing is not appreciated online, the first quote would be regarded as overly flowery and the second as too academic but should this really matter when it comes to creating web content. I offer this advice to you.

All great writers have a huge vocabulary, the greater the vocabulary the easier it is to describe things. Doing what you can to expand your lexical base will certainly help your writing abilities.
Do not always write in the same style. The style or voice should depend on the type of blog post, are you offering advice, having an open conversation encouraging comments or breaking news etc.
It is good to be concise where you can but this does not always have to be the case. People will keep reading if the information is interesting.

On to the real question, does using American or British English in your blog posts really matter when it comes to SEO?

I have researched this and the bottom line seems to be that, yes, it does matter what type of English you use. The basic fact is that the US is doing a lot more in the SEO world then its British counter parts. Every time I watch a youtube video about a new ‘app’, mobile phone technology or ‘3 steps to making 6 figures from your blog’ I can be sure to hear that American accent. Americans seem to be much more technology driven especially with blogs, SEO and SEM; also there is a hell of a lot more of them.

I think this raises another point that the UK does have a bit of catching up to do and that is not just with America but also with India, China, Japan etc. When I lived in the UK I lived in and out of London and outside of London there is not much of a technical revolution going on.

The UK and especially London is more focused on being a fashion and advertising leader rather than a leader in IT technology.

UK writers beware, some of the best known UK SEO companies have been effected by a sneaky Google change; all searches for ‘search engine optimisation’ default to the ‘search engine optimization’ results page. SEO companies are also seeing better results when they change all their ‘s’s’ to ‘z’s’ For sure the Internet is slowly being Americanised and this is seen in Google. South Africans, Australia and the United Kingdom are all moaning that Google localisation is not working; it is a bit cheeky to correct British English spelling with the American-English spelling on Google.co.uk.

My personal thoughts are that from my experience the British tend to have a foot in the past and half a foot in the future; the Europeans have a medieval history that we try to drag into the modern age. The Americans seem to have both feet firmly in the future with no attempt to look back at the damage left in its wake.

As we move forward into the new technological age driven by the Internet are we at risk of losing our rich history in literature. Maybe we should write as flowery and elaborately as possible to preserve this tradition. Most of the written word will be internet based and we can pretty much guarantee that printed books will become less and less available. I know most of you out there don’t care much about Shakespeare, Dickens, Joyce etc but I do.

Many people reading  online web content in English have English as a second language, but is making something simpler the answer? What’s wrong with asking people to consult a dictionary?

Anyway, as we move ‘onwards on the stream of time’ and empires of old become insignificant does anybody really care about the preservation of ‘Olde English’; but lets just be careful that the Internet doesn’t become a ‘hyper reality’, where consciousness is tricked into artificial stimulation