Social media: A grammarian's personal circle of hell

If you are a writer, a reader, or someone who cares at all about the English language, social media probably annoys the shit out of you on a daily basis. The internet is rife with it's/its, they're/their/there, and other grammatical errors that people really should know better than to make.

While my personal pet peeve revolves around the proper use of "less" and "fewer", today we're going to talk about punctuation (and the importance of it.)

Enter our champion: the Badger Football twitter feed.

If you've got some time to kill #Badgers fans, check out our updated Football video playlist on YouTube http://go.wisc.edu/1xvx8m

Now, kudos to Badger Football for turning their social media horror into a nice viral story. Instead of deleting the tweet, apologizing, or doing something else reactionary they soldiered on proudly (albeit without a very important comma.)

There is an important lesson in this story, however, and within this lesson is a personal plea from what remains of my sanity: being restricted to 140 characters does not absolve you from your grammar sins. Using a tiny phone or tablet keyboard is not a valid excuse for improper punctuation. You are not forgiven for using "u": that is not a legitimate word. I'll allow auto correction blunders, mostly because they are usually hilarious (like when I told my husband "Radition is in my future" because my phone didn't understand "Radisson") but this is my only exception to the social media conundrum that is hastening the demise of our written language and, most importantly, grammar.

No matter how informal your tweets, posts, and Facebook updates might be, treat them with the proper respect. Only you can prevent badger fan murders, one comma at a time.

6 Comments on "Social media: A grammarian's personal circle of hell "

Feb 21, 2013 at 3:29pm
This one grinds my gears too, and frequently people just call me too picky due to my English degree. I actually find Twitter an exercise in ensuring I use brevity while still being grammatically correct. The people who cut corners AND who are in charge of social media accounts seen by tons of people don't realize the bad example they're providing.
Feb 21, 2013 at 4:34pm
So true, Frank. Sometimes I spend several minutes puzzling over a tweet to figure out how to say what I want to say in the space allotted. It's a skill!
Feb 27, 2013 at 8:06am
I know understand what u speak to me. Cud U try and 'splain to every1 again? U da bestest :)
Feb 27, 2013 at 10:24pm
Very funny, Madam Pinkletoes.
Mar 18, 2013 at 7:55pm
Languages morph and change. It is in the very nature of living languages to do so. This is then where the differences between prescriptive and descriptive discourse camps tend to clash on the linguistic warfronts. The contention that there is a "demise" afoot would only hold true if the language were to no longer be spoken/written. Prescriptivists of different eras certainly would be at each others throats in debate over such things. Do we write, speak or otherwise communicate now as they did 100 years ago? No, there are plenty of similarities but the differences abound and I wouldn't be surprised if not a small number of grammarians from then would say that grammarians of now do a "disservice" to the language.
Mar 19, 2013 at 2:15am
I completely understand your frustration in this matter. While I've never been excellent in my English studies, I have always made it a point to include grammar in my online interactions. Such as ending my sentences with a period. But I also take to time to open a browser and verify my spelling for words I may be uncertain about. Pulling a dictionary out at your computer may have been inconvenient 15 years ago, but google and other sites are just a few clicks away.

One thing that has become increasingly disturbing to me lately is the amount of people who have terrible writing. Now I may not have the most glorious writing in the world, but I do make it a point to make it as neat as possible and, at the very least, legible. I was appalled recently at the writing on a parking ticket I had received. These things seem to have lost their importance in our education system.

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