Posted by Olivia Young
Thanks to both the Internet and social media, tech users have myriad ways to communicate. We can emote through smiley faces made of parentheses, video chat with our grandparents and translate English to Spanish ⎯ all with a mere click.
Most people have learned the proper place for tech-inspired shorthand like slang and emoticons. We’ve relegated these casual additions to social communication, drawing the line at résumés or inter-office e-mails.
But where do blogs fall on the spectrum of tech communication etiquette? Is it imperative to spell correctly and use proper grammar, or do blogs get a free pass on writing mechanics?
Blogger Penelope Trunk is of the “free pass” camp ⎯ she doesn’t think much of maintaining grammar in blogs. In her post, “Writing without typos is totally outdated,” Trunk argues for content, not construction: for her, proper grammar in the blogosphere is a thing of the past.
According to her blog, Trunk is “the author of a bestselling career advice book and the number one career blog.” In her post – which, in fairness, sounds like a reaction to some negative reader comments – she claims blog readers want innovation and think nothing of a few misspelled words:
Will everyone please shut up about the typos on blogs? Show me someone who is blogging every day and also complains about someone’s typos. Just try. See? You can’t. Because anyone who is trying to come up with fresh ideas, and convey them in an intelligent, organized way, on a daily basis, has way too many things on their plate to complain about other peoples’ typos.
She goes on to explain why she doesn’t concern herself with proper grammar, listing reasons like “Spellchecker isn’t perfect”; “Spelling is no indication of intelligence” because some people have dyslexia; and “Perfectionism is a disease.”
Trunk even confronts the AP Stylebook (the name of which she, interestingly enough, spells following AP Style guidelines), claiming, “Real grammarians, by the way, have memorized the AP Stylebook … and few bloggers can justify spending the years it takes to memorize the AP Stylebook. So you could spend your life reading the AP Stylebook, or you could spend your life spouting ideas.”
While it’s hard to buy Trunk’s argument with that pleasant ultimatum in mind, the overload of communication options has certainly led to a broader perspective on which style of writing is correct in different contexts. We can all agree that a college student shouldn’t write “u” in place of “you” in a term paper, although such abbreviation is perfectly acceptable in a text message. We can mash words together in hashtags, but, outside of Twitter, readers need spaces between words.
So, we’re back to the beginning: Where does grammar fit into blog posts? Can bloggers take liberty with writing conventions?
Trunk’s heart may be in the right place; more than anything, she advocates creativity and new ideas. However, bloggers who wish to be taken seriously shouldn’t wantonly disregard grammar. As more writers turn to their blogs as professional media outlets, it’s imperative to be conscientious with grammar – proper usage will clarify the message for the reader.
Are fresh ideas more important than spelling “sentence” correctly or following AP Style? How can bloggers find a happy medium between the two? Will we eventually develop a more unified blogging etiquette like our unspoken guidelines for emoticons and acronyms?
I think bloggers can be funny, innovative and grammatically correct all at once – it just takes a little more effort on their part.