I read a lot of social media all day long. I prefer Twitter, but I find myself spending too much time on Facebook every day. With Twitter, it is understandable why people write in code and create some serious atrocities against the English language. But on Facebook, there is no excuse for people who consistently spell words wrong, cannot put one complete sentence together, and use all caps without realizing how annoying that is. Instead of just accepting people who post like this (as they all say we should - "I'll spel hwever I wante!") and accepting their notion that it doesn't matter how their posts look as long as their information gets across, I decided to do some research. The results were interesting.
This is not a scientific study by any means. I just decided to take a deeper look at the people who insist that not being able to spell on Facebook and not caring about how Facebook posts look means nothing. My Facebook feed is actually filled with people who can spell and who do use proper sentence structure and punctuation. I know these people, and I know that they are well-educated folks who are not necessarily editing every post they make with great care. These are people who simply type the way they would speak, and what comes out is easy-to-read English that indicates a good level of education.
For this study, I went to feeds such as George Takei and the many sports feeds I follow and found plenty of people who could care less what their Facebook posts look like. What I found was that the people who write horrible looking Facebook posts are actually doing the best they can. That is how they spell and, when it comes down to it, that is how they prefer to communicate. When I read the profiles of a lot of these people, their profiles were filled with inaccurate memes and discussions that were so far removed from reality that it was obvious that they had no idea what they were talking about.
The conclusion? How you present yourself on social media is a direct indication of how seriously you took your education and how much you care about actually learning the truth about any topic. Another thing I found interesting is that people who refuse to take the time to communicate in proper English are intimidated by those who do communicate well. That is actually sad to me, because it means that people who are unable to properly communicate refuse to take the time to become better at it.
After reading a lot of Facebook posts that involved people communicating in proper English and those who mutilated the English language, I learned some things. Language mutilators tend to stick together, especially when a "grammar Nazi" shows up to correct someone. At the same time, some of the most vicious extended arguments tend to be between two mutilators with neither one making any real sense.
People who are able to communicate properly tend to stay away from discussions with mutilators, but that does not stop the mutilators from trying to chide proper speakers into inane discussions. I hate to say it, but most of the people who make what many people consider to be incorrect statements are language mutilators. Proper speakers also make plenty of mistakes, but they tend to not stick around to defend themselves nearly as long as mutilators.
To get an idea as to what social media could be, I went to LinkedIn. For those who are not familiar with it, LinkedIn is a professional social networking site where people gather to discuss business, find jobs, find business partners, and exchange information. After scanning several pages of LinkedIn posts, I found almost every participant on that website to speak proper English and take the time to create posts that are done in complete sentences, with good spelling and grammar.
Language mutilators dismiss sites like LinkedIn by saying they are filled with "snobs," which is not true at all. People who care about how they present information take the time to create social media posts that are easy to read for everyone, contain proper spelling, and use good grammar. It is not a crime to create proper social media posts. It is something that should be preferred, but instead it is chided by language mutilators.
The end result is that, while LinkedIn still has plenty of snarky people on it, the conversations were easier to follow and people are more interested in actual conversation on LinkedIn. Facebook is filled with people who have no idea what they are talking about, but will use a torrent of poorly structured social media posts to defend their position. On LinkedIn, good information is king. On Facebook, the dog who barks the loudest gets all of the attention.
It does matter how you communicate on social media. The way you structure your social media posts says so much about you that it is easy to tell what kind of person you are from your posts. Maybe, just maybe, people could spend an extra second or two to read what they are posting before they hit the submit button and bring us one step closer to creating that one social media platform for everyone that actually helps solve problems and engage people in conversation.
George N Root III is a Lockport resident who loves good conversation. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at email@example.com. By the way, did this article spark enough conversation?