I love writing. I love reading. Lord knows I do! I love reading all sorts of writing. Books, blogs, hard news, feature writing, social media sites, comment threads, the back of soup cans. Yes, I'm serious. I will read anything at any time. But the thing that can spoil my writing and reading experience, the very bane of my existence is the dreaded typo! We all suffer from "typoitis." It is a dreaded finger and brain disease that afflicts billions of people on a daily basis. It strikes for many different reasons. Sometimes our brains are working slower than our fingers and at others our fingers are moving faster than our brains. Sometimes the cause can be traced back to our early education. Perhaps our teachers weren't up to par. Perhaps we weren't the best students. But I think one of the biggest reasons why we are developing typoitis at an alarming rate is due to our fascination with and usage of social media. Let's delve into this.
Before we go any further, I must admit that despite the graphic above, I do make typos. More times than I would like to admit actually. In evaluating my own typoitis condition I've noticed that I make the most typos while texting or engaging in conversations on Facebook and Twitter. Now more often than not, I always blame the technology! Oh darn this phone! The predictive text is acting up! Or dag blast Facebook! It doesn't auto-correct our writing! But if truth has to be told, I am the cause of each typo that I make. When I am in social mode, my mind runs faster. I feel obligated to return messages at a rapid rate because I feel the person I'm speaking to needs my immediate feedback. Communicating through social channels, like texting or through social sites can be akin to fast-food drive-through shopping. We don't want to wait for the response too long. We want it steaming hot and with a side of fries thank you very much!
Communicating effectively is supposed to involve accurate and articulate language is it not? It can even be considered a bit sensual. Have you ever observed two people speaking to one another? Depending on the subject matter, they often lean in closer and touch one another to solidify a point they are making. Or when they are drawn into fits of laughter or rage, their whole bodies move, contort and engage. Hands touch, legs bump and shoulders flex. In writing, back when we weren't so inclined to move at the speed of sound, the words were more expressive, the tone was less combative and we longed to receive letters from each other. Letters were a gift to the soul. They were often written on carefully chosen stationary, sprayed with cologne or perfume (if sent to one's lover) and written with great care. But we no longer have to wait a week or more for a letter, we can receive instant gratification through texting, Twittering and the like. Now that we have removed the time constraint from language, It has been reduced from being a gourmet meal to a quickly dispensed vending machine snack.
Don't get me wrong, snacks can be delicious, but they will never sustain us. We must regain our respect for language before it's too late! In order to do this, we must shed light on our bad habits and correct them. The following are just a few instances that I've noticed in others writing and my own that can be corrected:
- Using text-speak in everyday communcations such as e-mails and letter writing. Save the Smiley's, LOL's, ROFL's and BRB responses only for phone texting, Instant Messenging and SOME social media situations. If these acronyms start to show up too often in business, personal e-mails and more serious social media interactions, you will not be taken as seriously as you would like. You will also begin to lose reverence for language and start speaking and writing in texting shorthand more often than you should.
- Sabotaging promotional efforts with lackadasical writing and editing. This can be geared toward anyone trying to promote any sort of business, but it is even more critical to those who are trying to build and publicize their writing or editing careers. I can't begin to count the number of times where I've seen a writer, publisher or editor have a social media profile or website bio filled with spelling and grammatical errors! If you are touting yourself as a writer, please take care to proofread your profiles. I have seen the following: Upcoming auther looking for editorial projects... Or, currently working on my fiction novel... Author is misspelled and a novel is a work of fiction so you don't have to say it twice!
- Overusing the same words. Admittedly, this is something I have to battle. I took a fiction publishing course a few years ago and this bad habit was quickly brought to my attention! Here is an example: Susan made a wonderful dinner last night! Everyone in attendance kept saying they had a wonderful time! I can't wait to be invited to her next dinner party. I'm sure it will be just as wonderful as the last! I definitely exxagerated this instance, but you get the point. The best way to eliminate this is to read what you've written out loud in your editing process. The eye can get lazy while writing so you may not see this even if you've looked at it more than once. Reading your writing out loud can be extremely helpful!
These are just a few ways we can get ourselves back on course when it comes to writing and editing and return to a state of grace in our communications. I welcome your comments, suggestions and additional tips on how we can best cure typoitis!
Please leave your blog and website links in the comments section with your feedback. I am super happy to belong to such a vibrant blogging community and would like everyone to get to know each other better. Try to visit a different site or blog each week to broaden your network and also become exposed to some great writing! Cheers!
*Also, if you notice any typos in this post, please charge it to my head and not my heart! Often when pointing out weaknesses, our own are exposed!