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.

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5 Responses to Writing

  1. Darren says:

    I, totally. aGree with you – dude!

  2. da_man says:

    u jst a h8r cos u old man, nt kewl lk us kdz

  3. steevo says:

    We all play by our own rules which is cool… You are right about the web in particular though.
    Some that think they are kewl are either trying desperately to be part of the tribe – or actually just not very smart.
    It’s easy to forget that there are plenty of not-so-bright people out there – with a license to post.

    My favourite quote about that is “Normal person + anonymity + internet audience = total dickwad (who probably can’t figure out their “their-there-they’re” etc.

  4. clairec23 says:

    Trust me, I hate txt talk (although guilty of it myself) but don’t knock sites like Bebo that encourage creativity in young people. Bebo, for example, has an author section where thousands of young people have already expressed themselves with poetry, short stories and even novels. So what if grammar and spelling isn’t the perogative of a lot of these kids, at least they are trying to be productive. Perfecting it will come later when they have grown out of dis n’ tHaT.

  5. Dan says:

    Thanks for your comment, Claire.

    I’m not knocking Bebo, nor do I want to stifle creativity; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

    A proper grasp of one’s language, both written and spoken, can only give you a greater means to express your creativity.

    A craftsman may have all the latent creativity in the world, but is never going to be able to realise his or her ideas without knowing how best to use their tools.

    The earlier you learn the fundamentals, the quicker your skills develop.

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