As I was zippin’ around the Information Superhighway today, I ran across this blog entry by Wil Wheaton. Wil is a great guy and has some interesting insights into a variety of matters both geeky and not-so-geeky. This particular post by him picked up on a pet peeve of mine that I’ve had for some time now, text-speak. Modern day devices have evolved to the point where we can communicate almost instantly via typed communications, most notably on cell phones. The reasons for using typed communication vary, but they exist and are actually pretty valid. However, it seems that as we move into more and more instant communication, our language skills are devolving. Wil’s blog entry is a perfect example of this.
I’ll admit, I’ve been known to use the odd LOL or ROFLMAO here or there, but it’s mostly in situations where those terms are almost expected. I refuse, however, to degrade myself by using shortcuts and misspelled words. It’s one thing to use the occasional acronym, but another to use cryptographic shortcuts to get your message out. Perhaps if my life was in danger, and I only had a few seconds to send a message, things would be different.
When I was in college, I spent a lot of time on IRC and playing a variety of MUDs. I have spent a good deal of time online in forums, talking on IRC and IM, playing online games, etc., and I have not devolved to the point of bad grammar in any of these situations. I think it’s a bad sign that people have decided to throw proper grammar out the window to chat with their friends.
What makes it worse is that television is popularizing the concept. AT&T runs a commercial now that pokes fun at the shorthand messaging by speaking it aloud and showing subtitles on the screen. It is quite the annoying commercial for any normal, educated person. In fact, I find it to be in quite poor taste.
Californication, a new series on Showtime, summed it up best with the following :
Radio Host: What’s your latest obsession?
Hank: Just the fact that people seem to be getting dumber and dumber. You know, I mean we have all this amazing technology and yet computers have turned into basically four figure wank machines. The Internet was supposed to set us free, democratize us, but all it’s really given us is Howard Dean’s aborted candidacy and 24 hour a day access to kiddie porn. People…they don’t write anymore – they blog. Instead of talking, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. You know, it just seems to me it’s just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people at a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King’s English.
Radio Host: Yet you’re part of the problem, I mean you’re out there blogging with the best of them.
Hank: Hence my self-loathing.