Friday, July 8, 2011

The Prevalence of IM Language: Convenience or Another Sign of Laziness?

I take a lot of heat--a lot of heat--for using punctuation in text messages, Facebook and Twitter updates, and even e-mail. I've come to terms with the fact that commas and semi-colons are never going to be a part of "text talk", though, although I suspect I personally will always use them.

No, the thing that really drives me bananas is stuff like using "u" for "you". Would it really kill you to type an extra two letters? Would it change the course of your life trajectory to press two more keys?

What kind of message does it send (pun not intended, but it made me laugh so I'm leaving it) if you don't value the person you're sending a text to enough to write out a three-letter word?

When I received a text last night reading, "how r u", I did not respond. I just couldn't. It would have been a rant, and that's not nice.

I mean, texting back, "I am annoyed by people too lazy to use capital letters and question marks and to spell out the word 'you'. How are you?" would have been overkill.

I do get the concept of convenience, by the way. Abbreviations are one thing; why would someone take the time to write out et cetera when etc. is a universally accepted abbreviation? Oh, and I use "LOL" all the time, despite Addie telling me that it's become an overused and even outdated expression.

My other pet peeves, just to totally prove how strange I am, involve spelling the abbreviated term of affection honey as "hun", using apostrophes to make words plural, and when people scratch their toenails against their heels (it makes a noise like fingernails on a chalkboard ... *shiver*).

Okay, here's the thing. I'm an English teacher. Of course I'm going to be annoyed by a lack of correct grammar. It's kind of an occupational hazard (although grammar is by no means my specialty as an educator).

When I remove the English teacher anal-retention, though, I'm still left with a feeling of frustration based on the laziness that permeates much of our society. There is a disturbing tendency to find the path of least resistance and follow it, to search out the easiest shortcuts instead of giving life your all.

Okay, take the apostrophe thing, perhaps especially annoying to me since it's one of the few absolute consistencies in the English language.

If you have a singular noun that doesn't end in "s" and you want to show possession, you add 's. The cat's toy. The shoe's lace. The idiot's cell phone. If a singular noun ends in "s", you add an apostrophe after the "s". The glass' contents. Jess' sister. A bus' wheels.

When a plural noun ends in "s", you add an apostrophe after the "s" to show possession. The three sisters' bedroom was messy. The two dogs' water bowl was empty. And if a plural noun does not end in "s", you add 's to show possession. The children's playground. The mice's cages.

Apostrophes are not used to make a word plural--when I see "the lady's are really nice" or "I bought seven book's yesterday", I get very annoyed. While the rules for making a word plural are pretty complicated at times, one thing for sure is that adding an 's is not the way to do it ... yet this happens all the time.

Take the word "tornado", for example. If I want to make it plural, I have to look up in a dictionary whether it would be tornados or tornadoes ... but I know for a fact that it's not tornado's, which is the way many people would spell it.

I'll stop going on about grammar now (if you're still reading this, thank you ;-)).

I guess what frustrates me is the societal laziness exemplified by IM language. It might seem like a small thing, but it's one piece of a much larger problem.

So many people are settling for mediocrity; the concept of self-motivation has narrowed to the point where it's hard to encourage others to put 100% into anything they do ... or, even more frightening, to push yourself toward some sort of excellence when "good enough" is ... well, good enough.