An article over at XOJane yesterday got me thinking about how written communication has changed, especially due to technology and social media. I’ve said before that a lot of people – if not most – now access dating sites and social media platforms using mobile apps. As such, people are using smaller keyboards and writing/communicating on the go.
Unless you work for yourself, it’s not often that someone is sitting in an ergonomic chair with a huge screen and appropriately sized keyboard when they’re typing. Replying to messages isn’t usually done during working hours as most businesses monitor employees internet access. That forces folks to access websites via their phone. Sometimes we are on a bus or in a cab when we’re tapping out a response to a message or updating our profile. We might even be crossing the street. If you weren’t an English major or in a similar course of study where you were judged on the quality of your written work, what you know about grammar came from High School English class. Do you remember everything you learned in high school?
Contributing to this issue is that many news or content oriented websites take submissions from writers without offering payment or assistance with editing. What you end up with is an uptick in the bad grammar and usage that we now see on sites we consider to host professionally written material, sending a mixed message. Being restricted to using only a certain amount of characters also gets us in the habit of taking grammatical shortcuts. So what we have here, as the line goes, is a failure to communicate properly. Admittedly the breakdown in communication is a failure on our parts. No question. We’ve gotten lazy about how we present ourselves in writing.
Is this lack of concern truly indicative of our character or personality? Does a decision to send a message to a potential date without spell checking it really display a lack of genuine interest? Or is this just one more flimsy excuse that people use to blow someone off? Is this yet another faux test men and women use to determine a quality match?
I do tend to agree that poor grammar and usage is usually a sign of lower intelligence. But let’s define “poor.” Here is what I consider unacceptable:
- Run on sentences with a total lack of punctuation
- Multiple instances of misspelling words
- All caps
- Ur instead of your, etc – (This one is debateable.)
Writing in all lowercase doesn’t bother me. Nor do I care if someone uses “your” when they should use “you’re.” I think people have taken the whole “dating is like an interview” thing too far. Yes, if you were applying for a job then being more concerned with spelling and punctuation is appropriate and expected. There is a smaller margin of error when a person is submitting themselves for a position for which they are being paid. I’m not sure if you guys heard this but nobody is perfect. The people you date are not just a cog in a machine. They are human beings. That means that they, and you, will make mistakes. A lot of them. If you are someone who will dismiss somebody because they used too many ellipses, you might want to consider the possibility that you’re kind of insufferable, humorless and difficult. That kind of holier than thou attitude will kill every relationship you have.
The other thing to realize and accept is that, as D’Alias said in the comments recently, online dating isn’t what it used to be. Truth? People just don’t care much anymore. Like ‘em. Don’t like ‘em. They believe that they have a vast number of options out there and therefore don’t have to bow to your whim. Whether or not that is true is irrelevant. That’s how many people think. They’ll blow you off, stop responding to emails, cancel dates, etc. They simply don’t care.
This isn’t to suggest that people should stop trying to make a good first impression. Of course we shouldn’t. What we do need to adjust is our expectations. Good for you that you never abuse commas. You win the internet! Some people do. Some people pay more attention to math or science. Something else that needs to go is creating a back story as to why someone didn’t spell check before hitting send. That crap borders on paranoia and delusion. Given how people constantly complain about the lack of messages they get, isn’t it progress enough that someone took the time to reply or write at all?
Finally, can we also put a cease and desist on taking screen shots of poorly written messages and posting them to Twitter or on blogs? Can we stop taking content from people’s profiles and putting them on the internet entirely? Let me explain something to you: someone with bad grammar might not be the rocket scientist you feel you deserve, but a person who gets off publicly shaming and humiliating these people for something so innocuous and impersonal is far more hateable. Short of coming out and being hateful towards someone, people don’t deserve public floggings like that. That man or woman didn’t erect that profile or send you that message to push you down some shame spiral. If your life is so empty and your need for attention so bottomless that you have to do such things, you’ve hit on the main reason why you’re single. People need to stop indulging and encouraging that nonsense. That person you’re replying to with your “LOL!” is an asshole. Plain and simple.