OK, I’ve about had it with poor language skills being forgiven under the pretext that “as long as you can read it, a few mistakes are OK” on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
If Social Media platforms are ever to achieve true legitimacy as a business communications and marketing tool, we have to learn to respect our audience, respect the medium, and respect the message, just as we would any other channel. Would you leave typos and bad grammar in your direct mail, or in a print ad? Production designers, copy writers, proofreaders spend hours poring over copy to ensure accuracy and eliminate errors, and just because it’s presented electronically, it’s OK to have mistakes published for the public to view? I don’t get it, can someone explain to me why this is so?
If these errors, omissions and poor usages are a reflection of the use of language in this country, maybe we should cast a critical eye on the elementary education system. If our kids are being taught that this is the way to speak and write English, then some body’s asleep at the switch and should be replaced. If we as a society condone such poor talent, then we are to blame as well – silence is tacit approval, and as such, saying nothing out of some misplaced sense of decorum is doing us all a disservice.
There are those especially in the previous generation to mine, who value their language, and prize it’s correct usage and accurate representation. When you read a book or magazine or newspaper and come across a mistake or a typo, doesn’t it downgrade your opinion of the whole publication, reducing it’s credibility, and altering your perception of the accuracy of the information being presented? If they missed the basics, how accurate can their statements or research be?
I wasn’t an English major in college, not even liberal arts (whatever that means), but I’ve had my homework and essays and reports and papers corrected by a professional publication editor according to Chicago style manual since I was eight, and after swimming in red ink for years, finally realized the importance of accuracy and correctness in the use of our common language. After a while, the ink started to recede and become more rare, and now with that training firmly embedded, I could focus on the message and how to craft it effectively, and not on the mechanics of producing the work.
If everyone had this level of training (and if our teachers were willing and able focus on it, rather than being glorified babysitters and disciplinarians trying to escape each day with their skins intact, we might manage it), then such things as poor word choice (their vs there), bad grammar (where are you at), lousy spelling and other grammatical gaffs wouldn’t be present or tolerated, no matter who the poster is – it’s up to society to set the acceptable standard for word usage and language skills.
It’s time to raise the stakes, lower the tolerance levels of bad language use, and revive the love of language that is the hallmark of great civilizations throughout history. The US is already working on becoming a second world nation, economically, educationally, in the areas of business and scientific innovation – let’s not add language skills to that list as well.
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