Before I get started here I feel that I need to set the scene a little. I’m not a copy writer. I don’t have an Arts Degree in English Literature. I barely even passed School Certificate English.
Through high school I was the ‘maths & sciences’ type — enjoying the ‘right or wrong’, ‘black and white’ clarity of these things — not caring for the fickle nature of the arts, where the same piece of work might elicit varied marks depending on who was marking it.
I should also mention that I have recently read Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves. For the third time.
It seems that the easier it is to publish one’s writing, the poorer the quality of that writing becomes. Email, TXT messaging, Bebo/MySpace et. al., have all made it possible for people to write easily and to write shoddily easily. Hands up if you use correct punctuation in your TXT messages? In fact, it has gotten such that I have been accused of being old, snobby, fussy, because I don’t use TXT-speak, and I know that the more obscure your Bebo page copy is, the cooler you are. Random capitalisation, dropped vowels, sprinklings of inappropriate punctuation — or no punctuation at all — are the marks of the most gangsta Bebo-er.
So despite the Englishness of writing, spelling, grammar, etc., it’s the abandonment of technique, the ignorance of the rules, the greying of the black-and-white that really gets to me; it’s the ‘maths & sciences’ person in me that is aggrieved.
All pretentiousness aside, the state of writing on the web is appalling. It’s really not that difficult to write well; Firefox has a built-in spell-checker for textarea elements, dictionary.com is a very easy-to-use resource — there really is no excuse.
The proper use of punctuation and correct spelling are not things that you can take or leave; they are entirely necessary. Without them, our communication loses its meaning. Without them, people can be misdirected, insulted, confused, delayed, misquoted, misunderstood, or simply angered.
Have some respect: get your writing sorted, people.