Writing, in recent years, has taken center stage thanks to the meteoric rise of phenomena such as text messaging and Facebook. These days, electronic communication is a cultural constant, if not a societal mandate. Not surprisingly, users of these modern means of communication demanded that it be equally as quick and efficient as the Luddite standard of verbal speech. For lack of desire to write and read in block paragraphs, shortcuts were taken.
Typos became acceptable losses, egregious mistakes in the basic mechanics of writing were passed off as attempts at stylistic composition and proofreading became irrelevant. It began with instant messaging and emails, and culminated with the dawn of Twitter—poor writing developed into a horrific pandemic. Despite the persecutions of college professors and Internet vigilantes alike, adherents to “The Elements of Style,” as written by Strunk and White, simply could not stem the rising tide of run-on sentences, spelling errors and misplaced punctuation marks. Not even the Oxford comma was spared.
Much to the chagrin of those who have little choice but to read or grade essays and other written content produced in this new literary age, the prevalence of grammatical and spelling errors are not an affront or even an outright assault against the English language as previously believed; for better or worse, what readers everywhere are witnessing is nothing short of the next great evolution of the written word. As such, it ought not to be reviled, as we might despise increased taxes or student fee hikes. Instead, these frequently witnessed and atrocious abuses of the written English language should be universally adopted, without amendment, as the next great evolution of written language.
The speed at which people need to communicate in writing has been exponentially increasing and continues to do so. And the onus of relaying clear understanding no longer falls upon writers who clearly have no time to do so.
In this era of essaying, flawless and stylistic composition has no place. The time of the paragraph is nigh. Nobody has time for any sort of exposition into a topic of interest, and readers would much rather have writers get to the point and present their evidence. If they do not already have a background in the topic being discussed, they would not be reading the piece in the first place; if they do, there would be little reason for including introductory details with which the reader is already well-familiar. As concluding paragraphs merely rehash the main argument, they, too, can go the way of the phone books. Ideally, an essay should consist solely of opinion and have no grounding in a background with which the reader is obviously aware.
Punctuation marks, like the comma and period, are quickly becoming superfluous to the understanding of any given sentence, and can thus be safely eliminated without seriously affecting a reader’s ability to understand the writer’s intent. The aforementioned punctuation marks and others that have already been driven to extinction by this generation of writers are basic to written language, and can quickly and effortlessly be mentally corrected by the person tasked with reading—for pleasure or for grading.
However, the lone exception to the elimination of punctuation is the exclamation point, which rose to prominence as instant messaging became popular. This marking should be used whenever appropriate, which is to say, all the time.
Similarly, proper spelling is approaching extinction for the better good of the world and the universe. Having to edit a typo is cumbersome, labor-intensive and soul crushing. The backspace key present on virtually every keyboard, physical or otherwise, symbolizes a Herculean trial. Furthermore, correcting a known mistake by any means constitutes personal weakness and should never be acknowledged. Again, a competent reader should be able to mentally account for an incompetent writer’s mistakes with ease.
Despite the protestations of even the most seasoned teachers of English, in this new era, words that are similar in either speech or spelling will eventually become freely interchangeable. Context, not the spelling or the word chosen, of any given word constitutes its meaning within any sentence.
Standards used to exist for writing, but thanks to the rising necessity of keeping the speed of writing as close to the speed of thought, they are no longer necessary. It is absurd to believe that any of these so-called plagues on written English are doing anything of the sort. It is a long and arduous experience that will make readers want to gouge their own eyes out, but in the end it will pay dividends as we embrace a great new world where meaning can be discerned from squiggles and guttural noises.