“omg liek i dont nede 2 typ proprly cus dis is da internet !!!! go away nerd looser !!!”
What you have just read is an example of a disturbingly prevalent attitude on the internet, particularly among the younger community: the quality of language that one would expect to find with reasonable frequency on instant messaging services, message boards and online games. Oh, there are all sorts of arguments for that method of typing; ranging from the almighty “This isn't an English classroom” to the highly versatile “I'm too lazy to type properly”. Those aren't accurate representations of the arguments themselves, of course, due to the fact that they were actually spelt properly. Shame.
How does your typing style on the internet affect you? It seems like the sort of question with an obvious answer that would never require a three-page rant by the author on what exactly the answer is. Unfortunately for you wonderful readers, it isn't. It's only going to be one page, because there's a suggested word limit that I am using up rather effectively with these sentences. Ooh, look at this one! It's doing it too! Ahem.
The way you type affects you in several ways: how well you communicate your ideas, how people reading your messages view you, and how well you type in the future.
The first of these is arguably one of the easier points to explain. Cohesion is something that one only achieves in - get this - cohesive statements. One cannot expect to communicate complex ideas efficiently when readers have to translate several tons of linguistic garbage in order to understand the text. This may seem strange to many people who are accustomed to using internet shorthand, but the general idea behind the written form of any language is that it is meant to be easily understood by anyone who understands the spoken form of the language.
While shorthand may be easily understood by those who have already been tainted by its foul talons, it may require some translation for those who are not “hip” or “with the times”. This isn't really a problem, per se, in an online game such as Runescape where the majority of the community is “in the zone”, but it is an inconvenience - and a large one at that - for people who do not wish to translate crude phonetic representations of words.
Secondly, the way you type affects how people view you as an individual. It might not be obvious, because you may be surrounded by people who type the same way you do, but to an outside observer, many of you are like slavering chimpanzees at a keyboard playing an online adventure game. Shorthand might still register as communication in the minds of more sophisticated people, but those who type it would probably register as human only by default. Some people may not mind seeing their language slaughtered, but most people with at least a decent educational background may find your digital presence distasteful.
You may be seen as crude, ignorant, lazy, uneducated or even rude; all bad things for public relations. I'll go out on a limb here and assume that you probably aren‘t. It shouldn't be a question, however, because in most cases, in order to not appear as such, all you have to do is TAKE THE TIME TO PRESS TWO EXTRA KEYS. Come on, you can do it. You were given eight fingers and two thumbs so you could use them all on a keyboard, not so you can be a slob and just use three to “save time”. Hey, you probably only save a fraction of a second for every twenty points you deduct from your perceived IQ. The occasional typo may be ignored in instant messaging or any other real-time chat interface, or even in forums. Blatantly misspelt words and poorly-constructed sentences, however, have almost no reason to be on a message board.
The flipside of this, of course, is the way your clique views you. Strangely enough, some groups I have encountered during my time on the internet find it in poor taste to type properly, because it does not fit in with their subculture of “non-conformists” and “cool people”. Well, alright. If it's “cool” for them to appear lazy and uneducated, more power to them.
There is also the point that naturally, some people have the notion that they should type as quickly as possible and thus cut as many corners as they can. A bit of advice for these sorts of people - nobody cares how fast you type. What many people care about is how you type. Real-time chat, message board, whatever -- misspelling with the intent to save a few precious milliseconds is looked down upon by people with any respect for their language. Of course, there may be the excuse that one is not a native English speaker, is still in his or her teens, or is a busy sort of person. Oh, hey. I'm all three of those. Fancy that.
On to the next point: your typing style is a habit. Unless you take steps to fix it, you're going to be typing like that for a while. I can tell you now that that is a bad thing. I've known and seen people with IQs reaching into the low 130s handing in major assignments with horrible grammar and several counts of the crime that is shorthand. These are people whom I know to be intelligent human beings, but had I been an outside observer with no personal knowledge of those individuals, I would have chalked them up as Class B semi-morons. Why do they type poorly? Simple. Because it's a habit that they haven't bothered to rid themselves of.
Ah, yes. I can almost hear the argument screeching out of the collective subconscious like a banshee chained to a jet engine. “The internet is not an English classroom”. Sadly enough, it is, in its own indirect way. The quality of language you are exposed to most often is the quality of language that you adopt. This is the reason why I have an Australian accent, and why Irish people have Irish accents. It is the language we are exposed to, and thus we adopt it.
For written expression, nothing influences people as much as what they read and write themselves. Sadly, for many of the young people who play Runescape, the only language they are exposed to is the internet‘s, judging by the demographic data on what young people these days are exposed to for entertainment - predominantly passive activities such as watching the television, playing games or listening to, ah… music.
These things - TV, games, music, etc. - in themselves cannot be blamed for a degradation in the quality of language in the community as a whole. It is the combination of these media and the lack of exposure to high-quality literary works that fuels the car on its way to the brick wall. Expose yourself to a good book and hit the brakes today
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