The “Grammando” Takes On Social Media

Before we paused for midwinter break, we were having an interesting discussion in my Senior Seminar class about how the act of reading makes one a better writer. I was glad we had that discussion, because while it seemed so obvious, I never thought of it that way before. More accurately —  I write well, and I think often about writing well; however, reading is so second-nature to me, I don’t think about it. Therefore, even though there is reciprocity between reading and writing in that in order to do one well you need to be able to do the other well, too, I never consciously made the connection.

I see people’s writing all the time. Sometimes it’s in the line of work. Sometimes it’s just noticing other pepole’s Facebook posts. I have a reputation of being a grammar Nazi amongst my social media friends — or “grammando,” in compliance with the movement to be more politically correct —  because within my own Facebook feed, I frequently repost memes from sites like Grammarly or I’ll post comments when I see bad syntax or spelling on infographics and memes others post. The latter was particularly true during election season; I didn’t make too many friends pointing out that one particular major party had a higher incidence of incomprehensibility over the other. I won’t name names here, but I’ll give you a hint: the responsible party has also been generating the strongest sentiments of anti-intellectualism. Go figure.

My Facebook friends sometimes tag me in their posts in order to preemptively apologize for their mistakes. I think some of them really think my head’s going to explode if I see a Shatner comma. Am I really that bad? I wonder. Okay, maybe I am. When we joked about having our intellectual revolution in class, I was the one advocating a mandatory spelling test before anyone would be allowed to join. But I don’t exactly red-pen my friends’ Facebook posts, despite the fact that it pains me to occasionally see nice people be completely incomprehensible. It hurts me when I have no idea what you just said. Throw in netspeak abbreviations and shortcuts. Shake well. Okay, maybe my head really will explode.

That said, all this time, I’ve been wondering what it is that I’ve internalized that other people haven’t. I honestly thought that my knowledge of how to properly use a semicolon or my willingness to look up a word I wasn’t certain how to spell was just a result of actually paying attention in school. I thought it was because I believed my teachers and my mother when they said, “This is important. You want to sound intelligent.”  Maybe that did have something to do with it, but now I’m inclined to agree that it probably has more to do with something I just did for fun: reading. In the case of writing, practice alone doesn’t make perfect. I am now aware of the viewpoint that one needs to see examples of writing done well (or at least well enough) over and over again.

I will let this percolate and revisit it later. I feel like I have a lot more to say on this subject, but I need to kick it around some more before I can properly articulate what I think.

Hey. Epiphanies are hard. Don’t judge me.

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~ by Shanna Gilkeson on March 10, 2013.

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