How Instant Messenging Killed English

I don't know about you, but how many instant messenger conversations do you have that looks something like this?

You: Hey there.
Them: yo
You: What's up?
Them: nm
Them: u?
You: nm
You: Just playing a few video games.
Them: u played ninja gaiden yet
You: All too much.
You: My soul is consumed by that game.
Them: lol
You: :D

I am not against the use of such abbreviations as nm, brb, lol, rofl etc. I also don't mind missing capitalization when the whole response is one word such as yo, hi, cool etc. These things are understandable to me. In fact, I enjoy talking to people who even use the crazy and somewhat reprehensible abbrieviations of u, r, ur, etc.

However, I am continually convinced that the internet is slowly destroying the literacy of all those who touch it. Upon beginning my sprint across an article I had to read for a class, I initially found myself confused by its rich vocabulary and large words. After shaking off the mentality I typically have when reading what is posted on the internet, I rediscovered much of my knowledge of English and read it with ease.

While being able to switch into a mindset with greater vocabulary is useful, it disturbs me that my natural tendency is to lapse into what is typical for the internet.

I'll admit that when I was a boy of twelve, my English was imperfect. Ask my mom sometime about my difficulty with all of the handwriting and grammar lessons she gave me. However, I'm pretty sure my English was better than examples such as this.

"itneresting, but i disgree wit u"

Having had various bouts with typos, I understand that they happen to the best of us. My worry about the future of English stems from the fact that I've seen everyone from twelve year olds to people who have graduated from college sending email that is horrendous.

I'm not pushing for a return to Old English or anything, despite my fancy with it. What I show here is merely my intense dismay that the basic rules of capitalization and punctuation are commonly thrown out the window unnecessarily, and that people often don't look twice at what they've already typed.

I'll admit openly that I'm not perfect myself. I've had at least three people point out numerous typos I've made just in this blog (some of the ones recently were due to a lack of sleep), and even some downright stupid spelling mistakes. However, I'll have to steal a thought from an internet pirate known as Maddox when he points out to a to an angry emailer that him (Maddox) making a few typos and the odd grammar/spelling mistake on a long, ranting webpage is nothing compared to someone who manages a slew of them in a small paragraph alone.

Certainly, someone is bound to find typos within this very entry in which I am crying out against them. I don't think that they are a sin, and I don't condemn people for the odd mistake. It is only when someone types like a three year old plays a piano that I start to wonder.

There are excusable cases. For people who don't do it often, typing can be quite difficult. A three year old can hardly be expected to write like Shakespeare. But people who sit in front of a computer and type away to friends over instant messenger, or craft emails daily really don't have an excuse. If you use a keyboard every day you should be proficient enough with it to understand the nature of the shift and capslock keys as well as where the . , ? ! and other are located.

I know from personal experience that without instruction a person can be perfectly proficient in typing. Back in my day, I had my two finger method of typing. My pointer fingers from both left and right hands could type at an incredible forty words per minute at their prime. This was capitals and all. As I grew older, my dad showed me the benefits of a system that made use of more of my digits, but the point is made.

Even now, I use what a typing tutor would only be able to call a bastard child of piano playing and good typing protocol. I certainly don't adhere to the basic rules of typing, both hands continually riding over into each others territory. It's not even better than the proper method, its just what I'm used to. Yet this entire rant is made by it, despite its unorthodoxy. I'll tell you now I do often have to slam the delete key when I miss a key or hit things out of order, but at least I notice and change it.

Maybe I'm obsessed, but I honestly don't think it very difficult to accomplish. Given the number of people I know who still manage to type in good English even on the internet, I know it isn't impossible.

Here's hoping.

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