Visit The Phyl Campbell Website

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The "New Grammar" of Facebook

You've seen the fight going on for a while. Years if you've been paying attention. The truth is, there is a fine line on Facebook and other social media sites between the occasional typo, appearing uneducated, autocorrect blunders, and being the rude individual who attacks someone's comment or argument by pointing out an inability to spell.

It's not really a new grammar. It's a huge gray area of steps and missteps. It's wondering whether a comment is worth taking back and editing -- or can people tell what was meant? And for some, it's a new way of reading. Few people hate the LOL cats, and have no difficulty understanding them.

Image is not owned by me, but is used educationally and editorially to demonstrate my point.

So which came first -- the online mistake or the cat that made it cute? Now, many people copy grammatical mistakes as a form of humor. There's even a shortcut I've copied -- "because X" -- where the statement is not grammatically correct, but the writer assumes the gist is understood.

Image is not owned by me, but is used educationally and editorially to demonstrate my point.

Take comments from many a local news story that has been shared to Facebook. (Please.) Some comments are requests for more information or  generally well-thought-out additions to the discussion. Others, read like, well, comments from the stereotypical "Bubba Joe" interviewed after the natural disaster or alleged alien abduction. "Bubba Joe" was not only abducted by aliens in the last tornado resulting in a fire where the dog rowed him out to safety, "Bubba Joe" has an opinion about everything. Oftentimes, this opinion is cringe-worthy to me. However, sometimes I find myself agreeing with "Bubba Joe," thinking how obvious a solution must be if even "Bubba Joe" "gets it." And that's where the new grammar of Facebook comes into play.

We're more likely to read something as a typo if we agree with the comment made.
Conversely, we're more likely to have difficulty reading comments we expect to disagree with.

I know people get labeled "grammar Nazi" and such things for trying to make the internet a place for better grammar. However, people offering too much correction stop being taken seriously AND are held to a higher standard of typing skill in their own comments. Perhaps such people brings it on themselves?

While recognizing the problem is an important step -- what can be the solution? Do we simply accept the new Facebook grammar? Do we insist on updated technology, more editing capacity, or read-back-and-edit-before posting features? I, for one, am all ears.