Hello friends. I have a few things to say on the subject of communication. Some broad thoughts and some specific requests.
I will no longer respond to messages in my social media that don’t at least attempt proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. It makes me twitch when I open a message from an adult that looks like it could have been written by a toddler.
I’m not going to be a douche about it. I’m fine with slang, also standard netspeak. (Though if you are over 40, please try to have some idea of correct usage for netspeak/slang!! Srsly!) Also, if you genuinely are a terrible writer/speller who somehow has no access to auto-correct or spell check, don’t sweat it. However, if you do have those things, by all means, use them!
It’s actually pretty easy to tell the difference between people who can’t do things and people who simply aren’t trying. If you are trying but simply cannot do it, I’ll be nice I promise.
The only time I find it appropriate to bend these rules are when we are chatting/instant messaging IRL (See how I still used that in a proper sentence?!?). In which case, relaxation of these rules aides in speed and efficiency of communication. Let the flow of the conversation be your guide. But please at least start at the top of your intelligence.
Finally, if you have something to say, then say it! If you have a question, then ask it! Don’t make me dance around with endless rounds of “Hi”, “How r u?” or, “u busy”. This makes me really crazy. Especially since, given my improv training and natural inclinations, I will usually simply reflect whatever you lead with and it will take forever to get anywhere.
I’m an advice columnist, public figure, and if we are connected on a social media platform, I at least nominally think of you as a friend. You can ask me questions in private. It’s okay. I give you permission.
If you are worried, then let me know the nature of the question, so I can decide for myself. In all likelihood I’ll probably still be okay with it and I will definitely let you know either way. I do think politeness is awesome! And proper etiquette rocks!! But I’m not completely hung up on it. Just do your best and you’ll be fine.
Okay? I mean, I don’t want to be a jerk, but I am a writer and performer. Language is clearly kind of important to me. I like to surround myself with people who are relatively well-spoken. And I enjoy intelligent conversation more than most things.
But hey, not everyone I know and like is well-spoken or skilled at writing. I do understand. I am just so tired of opening my inboxes and seeing mangled language and corrupted communication. It wastes my time and yours. Plus, it makes me sad.
Do you remember the crying Indian (Native American) from those anti-littering ads from the late seventies and early eighties? Well, if you do, picture that whenever you start to type a message to me that has no capitalization or punctuation to speak of.
Let us please remember that the purpose of language is to facilitate effective communication between people. When it is used properly, it’s even quite beautiful! To quote the linguist Henry Higgins in George Bernard Shaw’s play, ‘Pygmalion’: “Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech, that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible.”
Social media also has the positive potential to facilitate new kinds of effective communication between people. In ways we have never seen before! This does nothing to diminish the usefulness of properly used written forms however. If anything, it makes them all the more important!
As always, I love you all! And I look forward to some great communications!