On Quantity and Quality

A Facebook friend posted a post today which led to a lively discussion, it was all about spelling and grammar mistakes on social media (one of the responses misspelled grammar as grammer, and I almost did it just now), and it wasn’t your typical hahaha look at the stupid redneck couldn’t spell ‘socialism,’ which is actually kind of a hard word, when the President of the United States can’t spell ‘tap,’ kind of conversation.
It was a conversation of intelligent people sharing their own faux pas (Jesus, what is the plural of THAT) and speculating on the reasons for the profusion of errors – mind working faster than the fingers, spellcheck overstepping it’s bounds, etc…)
But, here’s the real reason and as soon as it occurred to me I realized it was the truth, which is basically how I test a theory. Not very scientific, I know, which is probably why I’m not a scientist, but here’s the thought, and you can take it for what it’s worth: we’re seeing more mistakes in print since everybody is writing far more that ever before. Sure, some bemoan the fact that nobody ever writes letters anymore (probably the same people who get nostalgic about typewriters and vinyl records). But, I remember those days. I would write maybe a couple of letters a week if I was traveling, maybe one every two weeks more like it if I wasn’t, and I’m sure the gaps were often longer than that. Now, I write several comments per day, maybe 20 or 30 but half of them are just ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘I really like this one,’ so say about 10 that have more than one paragraph and a semblance of a point, maybe a status update or two, and this blog. I send about 1,000 words a day out into the noosphere, and I know I’m not exceptional because I see a lot of friends post more than me.
So, let’s take me as a baseline, and multiply that by the couple of billion users of social media, and you have an absolute flood, a deluge of verbiage, a lot of which is written carelessly, while drunk, or high on something or another, or just fatigued.
So, I don’t think all the errors are a sign of our falling literacy, but rather of our nascent, emerging literacy. Keep on writing, folks.


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