06 May 2012

This Is What I'm On About...

I've been called a Grammar Nazi, but I'd rather think I'm more like a Grammar Sheriff or Constable. In other words, my bar is actually set very low as far as what a typical person's grammatical skill should be, more "move along" than "no soup for you!" In the interest of full disclosure, if you'd seen me in second grade and bore witness to the spectacle of me trying to keep "woman" vs "women" straight in my head, you might laugh your head off. In my defense, while I wasn't personally aware of it, this was around the time when "womyn" was becoming an acceptable spelling in certain circles, which would have probably cut the hassle I was having in half. Also in my defense, this was second grade. I was 7, maybe 8. Of course, I don't expect perfection at that age; the English language is full of little idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies that, for a young mind, are hard to comprehend.
The Escapist, meanwhile, requires its users to be a minimum of 10 years old. Yes, that's only 2 or 3 years from the age I was at when I was confusing plural pronouns for the fairer sex, but there's a world of difference between words that are spelled one way and pronounced another, and a mark of punctuation used to shorten the overall quantity of words.
The point is, in the end, I've taken a quality vs. quantity approach to how people write. When I read a novel, even one from a big name publisher and well-established author, I expect a typo or two. When I read a weblog entry that's more than a paragraph, again, I expect a few run-ons and "teh"s and the like.

When the title is misspelled, however... that's just pathetic.

The title, the damned title, is only two words, yet made three by an extra vowel and punctuation mark that changes the very nature of the pronoun its attached to.

Many years ago, on YouTube, there was a video circulating around called, "Get Want You Want." it was about self-manifestation, and quite a few others copied the title for their own respective takes on the subject. The sad thing is, people must have just copied and pasted the title from the original video using a mouse and key commands, because I swear I saw more "want"s than "what"s to the point of utter infuriation. I genuinely started writing a message to one of the video makers trying my best not to berate them for not even double-checking their text before hitting "submit." Luckily, it was eventually changed.

Yes, there are people with learning disabilities that make simple confusions like that into debilitating obstacles, and there are people for whom English is not their first language, but I'd argue those instances to be much fewer and farther between than politically correct types would have you believe. More often than not, it's just someone not thinking, not taking that extra half-second to give what they've written a once-over before hitting the "send" key. Sure, I've made my mistakes here and there, but to bring the second grade reference full circle and use school as an analogy, I'd say I generally averaged out a B student. Most people out there on the internet, though, most likely wouldn't even get F's. Rather, they'd get "See Me," which, if you ever got one, you know is far worse than simply a failing mark. It's essentially saying, "Not only did you completely fail this very simple task, but you failed so miserably that you need to be told in person."

Look, to all you out there who make these kinds of "See Me" gaffs and wig out when people point them out to you, it's not about following rules, it's about presentation and making an impression. When you see someone writing this way, what are your first thoughts? Are they positive? No, you probably think they're a damn moron and you're just waiting for your dialogue with them to reach the point when you can bring up their inability to keep possessives and contractions straight, even though you've probably got the same problem most of the time. That's right, Pot, Kettle, you're both black.