Words Still Matter

About five years ago, I found myself sitting in a third-year writing class with about fifty other students. One day, the professor – who was a reporter at the local newspaper – returned an assignment to us. A few minutes later, I almost lost my mind.

Not because I did poorly on the assignment; I didn’t. I’m a genius. But because other people did poorly. As a result, the professor used the opportunity to teach us the difference between to, two, and too; there, their, and they’re; as well as effect and affect.

I wanted to scream, but that’s only acceptable in drama class.

So I sat there and suffered.

The professor went through each word and asked the class what they meant. I refused to raise my hand.

We made it through the first round of homophones, unscathed.

When we got to they’re, a guy raised his hand and said, “It’s possessive. Like, they’re ball.”

They are ball. Lord give me strength.

I haven’t told anyone this, but that was the cause of my death. I was dead as soon as his words hit my ears. Since that moment, I have been experiencing life as a ghost, like Casper. It’s not bad; a bit nippy in the winter, though.

When we got to affect and effect, a genius in the front row said that affect was the past tense of effect.

I couldn’t believe the stupidity. I still can’t.

This was a writing course, full of writers. That’s what I thought, at least. I thought if anyone in this class was going to be the village idiot, it would be me – the Sport Management major.

I didn’t know a single person in the room and never got the memo that told me I needed a specific haircut to match my fitted pants and “nice” shirt. I wore sweatpants and a t-shirt to every lecture. It was very clear, to me at least, that I didn’t belong.

And yet, I knew the difference between all of these words. I knew them about ten years prior, if not more. This class was bread and I was lathering it with butter for three hours, each week.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post.

Have people given up on words and their meanings? Do people even care about the words they write anymore?

When did it become cool to misspell words?

I received a text message the other night from a wrong number. This is what it said:

“Yo I’m headin home soontime u guna b there long cuz I can cop ur scarf.”

I threw up on my phone and needed to replace it.

Was it really that difficult to add a “g” to “headin”? How about an “e” to the “b”?

I just don’t get it. It bothers me.

I’ve been in text conversations and chats online like that before, where the person I’m talking to leaves letters out of words and makes some up along the way.

I used to face an internal struggle whenever I received messages like that. Do I text back using their lingo? Or do I text back and include every letter in every word. My default mode is to spell the words correctly, but sometimes I wouldn’t. I would dumb myself down to fit the conversation.

I don’t do that anymore. It’s too difficult for me to type out “u” instead of “you”.

The internet brought about internet-speak. I get it. But why do we need it? Are we really saving time by writing “ur” instead of “your”? What are we doing? Why can’t we all just type properly? As if we’re writing a book.

All throughout school, I thought that by the time I reached university I would be surrounded by people who knew how to write proper sentences. I wasn’t. I hated group projects, as a result, because I had to edit everyone else’s work.

Do people even care when they post a status, or caption, on social media and misspell words? It drives me nuts. I can’t take them seriously.

Yes, I’m happy you had a nice birthday but what is a “birtday”? 

But I can’t say anything. I would sound like the crazy one. Picking on other people for using abbreviations and not spelling words correctly? How dare I? How dare I expect words to be used properly?

I’d be called a grammar nazi or a stickler, just because I want to see every letter accounted for in the word “your”.

And that’s the problem. No one cares.

I don’t mind some abbreviations like “cuz” and “tmrw”.

The internet is full of trolls who sit in front of a screen all day, fingers ready to pounce on the newest post they see.

I really don’t know which is worse – Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – in regards to people leaving insulting comments on popular pages. I find myself questioning a stranger’s motive on an hourly basis.

Are people that desperate for attention, or think it doesn’t matter that they go on a celebrity’s page and call them a “fat pig”?

Who raised these people to be such losers?

They’re throwing insults around as frequently as coins getting tossed in the fountain at the mall.

Today I saw the words, “Om Telolet Om” all over social media. I looked up what it meant, but already forget. It doesn’t matter. What’s the point?

Do people think they’re funny? They’re not. And if people think they are, then I promise to never crack another joke ever again on this blog because clearly my kind of humour isn’t what gets a giggle anymore.

Moment of silence for all the laughs you and I may never share.

We’re in a world where pictures, videos, and senseless comments are taking over. Twitter has a character limit because people don’t want to read anything too long.

It feels like words are losing their place. As if reading something for ten minutes, on a screen, is too much of a hassle.

I hope this isn’t the case.

As a blogger, words are all I have. You can read any “Tips for a Successful Blog” article you want, they’ll all say the same things.

1. Have pictures, so your readers have something to look at.
2. Tell your readers what days you plan on posting, so they know to look for it.
3. Have a specific theme.

I don’t really follow any of these tips. The theme of this blog is me. I’ll write whenever I want. And I rarely put pictures on my blog.

I rarely use pictures because I don’t want to take away from the words I’m writing. If you’re looking at my photos, why should I bother writing anything? I want you to look at my words.

My high school English teacher always said, “let every word tell”. I think my writing style reflects that.

I’m not sitting here thinking of superfluous words to add to my post. I’m not trying to sound smart by adding big words, except for “superfluous”. I’m just trying to let my thoughts come through as clearly as possible.

When you use a keyboard to communicate with someone “on the other end”, all you have are your words. You don’t have the benefit of hand gestures, facial expressions, or any other elements of body language.

There are just words. How you use those words should matter.

So when I see text messages that look like they’ve been chewed up by a dog, or meaningless and/or repulsive comments on social media, or even a society fascinated by bottle flip videos instead of thought-provoking articles, it kinda really irks me.

A lot of educated people have no clue how to write properly; they don’t even try. That’s a problem.

I’m not perfect. This blog post probably has more errors than I would’ve liked.

But I think words still matter. They have to.

They must.

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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41 Responses to Words Still Matter

  1. sehrish says:

    People struggle with words, whether it’s while speaking or writing. Some of those internet crazes imitate others just to fit in. But, those who really value these ‘words’; the medium of communication won’t hesitate to type out whole words in proper sentences. I know I do for people still ask me why I’m being so formal. Well, formalities…anyways I’m glad words still matter to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cherry says:

    Very nice post . I do think the same way ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jess says:

    I personally think Facebook is worse when it comes to the insults because it’s your family and friends who are doing the insulting. It’s hard to escape it. Or click on articles on Facebook and it’s all there in the wide open. At least Twitter and Instagram hide the insults well, unless you’re looking for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I think you’re right. Sometimes I’m curious on twitter how people reply to tweets because now they show how many replies there are to tweets. But most of the time it’s just incoherent blabbering.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hira says:

    I seriously don’t understand how much time does it takes to write You instead of u! I hate “u” , I hate “ur” , I have to ask back – what do you mean by yokkie , or yooke ?!! What the hell is wrong with a simple okay?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is great. I taught middle school for 7 years before my son was born. It is amazing how social media has changed language. It was noticeable in both my students’ written and spoken words. I will be the first to admit that I love to use the occasional “abbrev,” but it is typically more for humor. However, not capitalizing letters and omitting entire words drives me absolutely crazy. As a side note, a appreciated your use of a semicolon in the post. The semicolon is a lost art. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Oh man, I’d imagine teachers everywhere are frustrated on a regular basis having to get students out of their bad texting habits, just so they can write up an assignment properly. I’ll use the occasional abbreviation too but it’ll be for words that require them. Not words like “you”. And I’m glad you noticed my semicolon usage! I try to use it when I can to show people it still exists.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. micqu says:

    There is snow falling down on your page…

    I agree with you. I just like to read real sentences with correct words. I am not a perfect writer, I mean, how could I be? And is there any such thing? Perfection doesn’t exist – and if it does, it is boring! I only started writing in 2012 (learned English when I was 15 in 1998) and to me, words matter. Style matters and taking care of what you write and how you do it matters too.
    I Loved this post. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      The snow can be added to your blog too under settings! It’s a WordPress holiday feature. I think you’re a wonderful writer! I think if more people made the effort, they could be too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Squid says:

    My sister is chilling in my room with me and she read this before me and was quoting random parts out loud that she liked and I was so confused so I read it too and started quoting parts at her. Thanks for the laughs!! We had a blast totally dying at the ignorance and apathy of this world with you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      That is the best. I’m bringing family’s together in the name of stupidity. Which lines were you reciting?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Squid says:

        PAUL. *families (for crying out loud…)
        “I’m a genius” and “I wanted to scream, but that’s only acceptable in drama class.” “They are ball, Lord give me strength.” to name a few.
        I read a couple of the mistakes out loud for the fun of it, like the mangled text message that got on the wrong end of that massive Doberman. Many others, but this would be an extremely long comment otherwise.
        Squid

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Haha excellent. Yeah I’m blaming my phone for the misspelling of families. I’ll fix it when I get to a computer!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. rebbit7 says:

    Agree with this on all levels! Admittedly, I used to write Internet speak in high school but as a way to fit in with my peers; I clearly remember having to think beforehand to shorthand my words before posting the comment on FB and it wasn’t until after high school that I decided that shorthand wasn’t me and if I wanted to take my writing seriously, then I had to write properly. Today, I find even shorthand among my adult friends troublesome, but at the same time respect it all the same, especially if they’re comfortable with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I was like that too early on and then I realized it was just more natural and and easier for me to spell out words in the entirety, rather than think about how to shorten words that were already short. Glad you could relate to this!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. ~M says:

    Sory Pawl, I agee hole❤tedly.

    Wow! That was really hard to write! My autocorrect feature almost didn’t let me get away with any of that. Lol…. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. peckapalooza says:

    This is fantastic. It should be required reading for everyone who uses the internet. A good part of what I do for a living involves editing other people’s blog posts or web articles. I’m lucky that a lot of my writers know what they’re doing. But every now and then…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Val says:

    I’ll say to you what was often said to me when I was younger: you’re an old soul. (That’s a compliment).

    Yes, people have lost the art of writing correctly and a lot of it irks me, too. But I suspect I’m not as hard on people, as I used to be, for some of the errors they make, these days. Amongst other things, I take into consideration the number of people who are dyslexic, the number who are typing (as I am) on a tablet’s useless keyboard (or worse, a phone’s one). Then there are people who have never learnt the art of communicating with others. Its rather like those who cannot think for themselves.

    I hate the use of ‘u’ or ‘ur’, too. But I do try to let it pass. Ultimately, behind all the bad grammer is a genuine person. Well, apart from those who aren’t, aka the shits who can’t contain their rudeness! 😉

    Oh, and be warned, my favourite abbreviation is…. wtf?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I’ll take it as a compliment!
      Now I feel bad for potentially insulting dyslexic people.
      People can text or type however they please, but sometimes it would be nice to read actual words. That’s all I’m saying.
      I’m glad I’m not the only one bother by “u” and “ur”.
      Haha that’s a good abbreviation to like. Comes in handy.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. kirkhsmith says:

    People that write like that are loosers;)

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Barb Knowles says:

    This post is the best of both worlds. It’s BRILLIANT plus I burst out laughing a number of times. I think of myself as being not only literate, but very aware of words. As you said, words matter. I try, especially in my memoir essays, to be careful about how I write about past experiences. Words should not hurt.
    But as aware of words and grammar as I am, I do use text abbreviations automatically now. Such as lol, btw and……maybe it’s just those two. Not to. Not too.
    I love this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This has been a common problem to young folks who started social media first before learning how to write properly. Hilarious as it is, it’s getting worse. I do hope that they wouldn’t bring an insult to their school through their writings. I have seen a lot of writers now who have such spelling and grammar miscues that was very obvious and I wonder how do they get the job of writing for a popular website or newspaper. I can’t stand it, although I also commit mistakes, when I read what I write, it doesn’t sound as bad as their work. May their writing develop!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Well said! It is getting worse, no doubt. I see some professional news websites and the writing is borderline university level. Maybe they’re trying to dumb it down for their audience? I don’t know. If I see something on a media site and I feel I could’ve done a much better job, then there’s a problem. Writers should be experts.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. And may I add, if you don’t want to put in a lot of pictures, just recycle a picture. That way your audience would remember that picture and have a cue that you have written about something. It helps me, it might help you also. 🙂 A blank paper and your hand on a portrait could be remembered and get the attention of your followers that you have written something. Try it out. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I love this post so much, and I agree. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that people don’t read anymore. I have friends that have genuinely never read a book, besides the ones assigned in school. And they even admit that they only read about 10% of the actual book. The rest they simply filled in with sparknotes information.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I think you’re right. School didn’t really instill in me a desire to read. I didn’t pick up a book again until 2 years after I graduated; now I read all the time. I think people see reading as uncool and their writing suffers as a result.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. This post made me laugh, but I definently agree. Well said.

    Like

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