Wednesday, January 29, 2014

To Be, Or Not To Be, Literate

Today, 'social media' is making us more aware of things about people--such as their level of education, and attendant writing skills (penmanship), of which, we were blissfully unaware, in the past. The question then becomes, "Should I continue being 'friends' with this person, even though they write at a fourth grade level? As much as I take the time to write a thoughtful reply to their posts, diligent in employing the correct spelling of words, enrapturing my sentences in proper syntax, and avoiding those perverse, breath-choking dangling participles, am I entitled to expect the same in return? Would it be better if I DELETE these linguistic offenders out of my existence, or should I inform them that it takes less of an ounce of muscle force to raise one's index finger, and push it down on the right click mouse button to 'spell check' a word, then it does to reach for, or walk to, a dictionary? After all, Respect is Respect! They say "success" is surrounding yourself with successful people who wish for your success! Should I apply this 'rule of thumb' to my discourse on social media, or do you think it's the 'hallmark' of being a snob for merely thinking it? Do you feel more comfortable texting with someone who has the utmost respect for the English language, or with someone who considers it a foreign language? Do you think social media is becoming a 'filter' and 'determiner' of 'Social Class'? Or, do you agree with me that it WAS better to live in blissful ignorance--as it was in the analog days when we interfaced in person, over the phone, and/or through letter writing? But again, the literate beast raises its beak again. It was, often, the 'literate' who engaged in letter writing--save for the questionable 'others'--whose idea of writing a letter, seldom exceeded the signing of their name on a pre-messaged greeting card! Should we forgive this literate shortcoming, and be democratic in our reception of all levels of linguistic expressions--no matter how bad--seeing ourselves as out-of-date, aging, literate dinosaurs, grazing on Keats, and waxing on Wadsworth, as an asteroid, named 'Mediocrity', races across the sky to mark the beginning our demise? But then, it is this: social media's revolution lies in its 'Singular' provision as a tool of Democracy, where it allows 'Everyman' or 'Everywoman' to make his or her views known on a global scale. That, in itself, is Amazing! So, I would say to all my fellow literate 'snobs', that as much as we wish that our 'linguistic brilliance' be reflected back to us, we are only accountable to ourselves; and, for the good of 'Democracy' and global communication, that is good enough; that the message is more important than its word 'Smithing'; and that we must "Keep the faith", that through our devotion to proper use of the English language, it will become more universally infectious, in spite of holding of our collective noses.

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