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Best grammar lesson ever…

February 6, 2013, 10:26 PM

Sometimes, the best lessons in life are subtle and just sort of fall out of the sky.  This is one of them.  And also remember a few very important rules of the Internet:

  • The rules of proper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation still apply on the Internet.
  • There is no privacy on social media, no matter how much you think otherwise.
  • The Internet does not forgive, nor does it forget.  Once you put it out there, it is out there for everyone to see, and it’s out there forever.
  • The average Internet user is not required or otherwise obligated in any way to protect your identity if you say something stupid online.
  • It is not a violation of anyone’s privacy to circulate a message posted in a public venue.

That said, you are probably starting to realize one thing: someone is about to get nailed for something that they posted on social media.

You are about to find out why it’s best to use the language the way the rest of us learned how to use it.  However, while you may certainly be creative in your ideas and in the ways that you express them, those of us with a healthy respect for the proper usage of the English language request that you please not exercise your creative tendencies when it comes to grammar and spelling.

The incident in question happened on Facebook.  It was in response to a public post on the Power Rangers Facebook page.  The original post had something to do with Power Rangers Megaforce, and really isn’t too germane to what I’m talking about.  I made a comment about the original discussion (I know way too much about Power Rangers, by the way).  And then someone else made a post.  And it was a real doozy.

Here’s the post, responding to the original topic, about Power Rangers’ getting their powers back:

Who think freakahzoid aka the troll will be good on power rangers ? o.O.: simple the energy of the ranger keys will be brought fourth by the team of heroes after these but it wont be having the characters as each one since most of them are the way they are just need too wait till you see it :-P  LOL all the powers came from space so it be some short of spacetecular thing ;D

How many sentences is that mess supposed to be?  The only capitalization that I see is “LOL”, and the only punctuation that I can find is tied up in the emoticons.  I can’t even entirely make out what they’re trying to say here.  What is “having the characters as each one” supposed to mean, exactly?  You’ve got me.  And without punctuation, forget trying to discern exactly what’s supposed to be a complete thought.  I think I see four sentences there, but that’s up for some interpretation.  As it is, it looks like the dictionary threw up on the screen.

That was beyond what I could handle.  I responded:

Ben Schumin: Dude. Punctuation, proper spelling, and proper capitalization are your friends.

I considered that a pretty simple and straightforward admonishment to use proper grammar.  Realize that to me, whatever they were trying to say up there was lost in this mess of improperly restrained words.

I figured that was going to be the end of it.  I figured that the admonition would be ignored, and the discussion would continue.  But some people apparently don’t know when to let something go, especially when the person is right.  Let’s not forget that my mother’s a language arts teacher, after all.  I know this grammar business.  “‘Went’ stands alone” was one of the memorable phrases from my childhood.

So I was amazed to see someone actually defend this bad grammar:

Brian Rommel: @Ben Shumin Since when did that matter on the internet?

First of all, my last name is spelled “Schumin”.  Not “Shumin” or any other creative spelling that you might come up with.  I can understand misspelling my name when you only have gotten it verbally.  It is an unusual spelling.  I will give you that.  But when you have only seen it in writing, and it’s staring you in the face as you’re writing your comment, that’s just lazy.

That’s just like when people misspell my last name when talking about this site.  You are required to spell it correctly to reach the site.  And my last name is on every page.  So to misspell it after a visit to my site, where I blast you with the correct spelling ad nauseum, that’s just lazy.  I see no evidence that Brian Rommel ever made it over to my site at this point (but he might once this goes up), but you see my point: when you have only seen the name in print, you have no excuse for misspelling it.  Yet people do.

But other than misspelling my name, he got everything else right, despite the fact that he was actually defending the use of poor English.  I’m not going to count the non-capitalization of “Internet”, because apparently the jury is still out on that one.  I personally would capitalize it when referring to the big global computer network.

I responded:

Ben Schumin: Brian: It doesn't matter whether it's a Facebook comment or a term paper. Using bad English still makes you look like a moron.

This is kind of a no-brainer to me.  If you are communicating in a format that is written, please make sure that your written words match what your mind is trying to say.  Again, I expected that the matter of proper use of the English language would finally be allowed to drop.  But it didn’t.  And this one takes the cake:

Brian Rommel: Sorry if my iphone makes be look like a moonpie. why should people but effort into prefect grammer. The grammer Nazi's sometimes mak the internet unbearable. I can understand some of their complaints, but I always try to use spell check. God help me if I Capitalize the wrong word and I get bashed by them.

Wow.  Just wow.

First of all, I don’t know how bad grammar can make one look like a (fairly disgusting) snack food product.  This is a Moon Pie.  I don’t know what Brian Rommel looks like, but I’m sure he doesn’t look like a Moon Pie.  Otherwise, in defending the use of hideous grammar, he made, by my count, eleven different mistakes of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.  That breaks down to six spelling errors, four capitalization errors, and one punctuation error.  While he claims to always try to use spell check, it would seem that he’s not trying that hard with his use of the spell check function, because any spell check worth its salt, at the very least, would have caught “grammer”, which he used twice.

Then he’s also blaming technology for his inability to write.  That’s really lame.  The inability to control your technology is not an excuse to use bad grammar, nor is it permission to “look like a moonpie”, as he put it.  I have a smartphone with autocorrect.  I have posted whole Journal entries from my phone before.  You would never know it because I know how to control my technology rather than let it control me (and this is how you turn off the autocorrect on an iPhone, by the way).

I also know how to proofread something before I let it go out, no matter how minor it may be.  I had a professor during my freshman year in college who stated in his syllabus that he would ding us two letter grades right off the top for submitting a paper with even a single spelling, capitalization, grammatical, or typographical  error in it.  Trust me when I say that everyone in that class made absolutely certain that their writing in that class was perfect, even if their arguments had holes in them that were big enough to drive a truck through.  I completely agreed with the admittedly very strict policy, even during the semester that I was in this professor’s class and subject to the policy.  The rationale was exactly what I’ve already said: if you can’t write properly, you’re going to look like an idiot on that point alone, and it doesn’t matter what your actual argument is.

So in the process of trying to defend himself against my claim that bad grammar makes you look like a moron, he proved my point.  I love being right.