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Quick take

Essential reading for any child of the internet era.

Why it’s worth it

If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at your dad’s misuse of “tbt” or wondered if your boss was being passive aggressive with her punctuation (again), you need to read Because Internet. Gretchen McCullough’s smart, chatty survey of the linguistic revolution sparked by living our lives increasingly online will have you thinking “I do say that!” more times than you can count.

Part history of language, part linguistic survey, and part ode to the beautiful creativity fostered by the internet, Because Internet is a sweeping appraisal of how the technological and social changes of the past two decades have resulted in an unprecedented disruption of the ways we shape and use language. It’s also an unabashed celebration of language’s innate, thrilling capacity for creativity, innovation, and playfulness—whether you’re living in the age of Shakespeare or the age of Cardi B.

Sound too academic? Because Internet reads the way that cool professor in your freshman survey course talked, with more than its fair share of whoa! moments and snappy fun facts you can bring to your next dinner party. Whether you’re interested in the nuances of LOL versus lol, or you just want to know what your teenager is saying for once, McCullough’s investigation of internet speak won’t disappoint.

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Overview

Language is humanity's most spectacular open-source project, and the internet is making our language change faster and in more interesting ways than ever before. Internet conversations are structured by the shape of our apps and platforms, from the grammar of status updates to the protocols of comments and @replies. Linguistically inventive online communities spread new slang and jargon with dizzying speed. What's more, social media is a vast laboratory of unedited, unfiltered words where we can watch language evolve in real time.

Even the most absurd-looking slang has genuine patterns behind it. Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch explores the deep forces that shape human language and influence the way we communicate with one another. She explains how your first social internet experience influences whether you prefer "LOL" or "lol," why ~sparkly tildes~ succeeded where centuries of proposals for irony punctuation had failed, what emoji have in common with physical gestures, and how the artfully disarrayed language of animal memes like lolcats and doggo made them more likely to spread.

Because Internet is essential reading for anyone who's ever puzzled over how to punctuate a text message or wondered where memes come from. It's the perfect book for understanding how the internet is changing the English language, why that's a good thing, and what our online interactions reveal about who we are.

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Preview

Get an early look from the first pages of Because Internet.

Read a sample →
Social sciences
  • Because Internet
  • Eyes in the Sky
  • Falter
  • Tightrope
  • On The Clock
  • City of Omens
  • Evicted
  • The Sky Is Falling