Recently my brother, a professor of Education at the University of Arkansas and blogger at EduSanity, shared this video on his Facebook page:
Now, it’s incumbent upon me to tell you that the student and e-mail are both fake. It is, in fact, an aggregate of e-mails this professor has received from his students over the years.
Be that as it may, this kind of “language”, if that’s want you want to call it, looks all too familiar. Who hasn’t read something like this?
If you or someone you know commits these heinous crimes, there is a reason this professor – and others like him – delete these e-mails.
You deserve to be ignored.
You deserve to fail in life.
You deserve that miserable, soul-sucking, dead-end job that is waiting for you after college.
And if this is the highest level of intelligence that you strive for, then there’s at least an 8 in 10 chance that your better half will leave you for someone else.*
I may not be a professor, but I’ve received a few cringe-worthy e-mails.
When I put up a Craig’s List ad for an available room during a summer after college, I got moronic responses like the one in this video. And do you know what I did?
I ignored them.
I didn’t want to live with an idiot.
When I was a single lady on OK Cupid, I used to get messages written like this, and do you know what I did?
That’s right. I ignored them.
I didn’t want to date an idiot.
The manner in which you present yourself to other people matters.
Mr. Anderson shows how typing numbers for letters, being too lazy to use the shift key, and using “u” instead of “you” was a reflection of the student’s character and their commitment to work.
I’m not a grammar cop. I’m not saying that using proper grammar makes you a good writer. I’m saying that trying to use proper grammar even to the best of your abilities and even if you make some mistakes makes you a good writer. If you care about grammar enough to simply use it, then you’re a good writer.
Throwing it out the window completely, because you’re too damn lazy to type a few extra characters, makes you an idiot and you deserve to be ignored.
Writing matters. Writing is a form of communication. How you communicate makes an impression on people. And when you write poorly – i.e. like a dim-witted shit-for-brains – then you make a poor impression on people. Some people may be as dim-witted as you are – or maybe they’re your best friend or your mom and love you know matter what stupid crap you pull – and they’re not going to care. But the people who do matter pay attention to what you say and how you say it.
Would you show up to an important work presentation wearing sweat pants and Tevas with socks? Would you show up to a first date wearing the house dress with last night’s pizza grease and wine stains?
I think not. Why? Because self-respect. You want people to take you seriously. You want them to invest in you. People can’t take you seriously in sweatpants and Tevas with socks just like they can’t take you seriously when you can’t be bothered with capitalizing letters.
Humble readers of this blog may be wondering, “I’m not an idiot, and I don’t use numbers for letters. What does this have to do with me?”
It’s a reminder of why we should work our asses off to write well. If you don’t want your blog to end up on the 10 billionth page of a Google search, then you need to give a shit. If you want people other than your mom and your cat reading your blog, then you need to give a shit.
Impressions matter, and your written communication makes an impression. People judge whether they want to be connected to you based on the impression you make.
Even if you don’t write like an idiot, your content matters. When people come to your blog, they decide whether to keep coming back based on the impression your content makes.
If you write like someone who does give a crap, then you risk looking to all the world like this:
If you write like someone who has it going on, then you’ll look more like this:
If you want to look natural but still keep it classy, you might look more like this:
If you’re going for irony, you might look like this:
Depending on how you decide to communicate – how you decide to write and to present yourself – you could look like any one of these pictures.
But whatever you decide, I hope it is thoughtful, intelligent, authentic, artistic, and creative. I hope it speaks highly of all the human race has to offer.
Keep in mind, though, that if you present yourself to the world looking like this:
people just might ignore you.