Enough with the text shorthand: 5 reasons to stop


If you weren’t already aware of this, bloggers like to go on rants.

Rants can be about a large, complex and nationally significant issue (see also, political blogs), dissection of the latest Apple/Google/fill-in-the-blank product (see also, tech blogs), vicious arguments about content and business models (see also, media blogs),  or the mind-numbing minutiae of an esoteric hobby (see also…. I don’t know… taxidermy blogs?)

I’m not prone to ranting. This is probably the closest I get to it. And maybe this. Ok., I guess this is also an example of a rant. And oh crap, I forgot all about this (much ranting also in the comments). I suppose some could view this as a rant as well.

What were we walking about again? Oh yeah, bloggers are prone to ranting though I don’t personally engage in it.

On the rare occasion that I do engage in it, I like to make it about something truly important. Something that affects us all. Something that, if allowed to continue, may well bring about the end of Western civilization as we know it. Maybe even ALL civilization.

Yes, I’m talking about text shorthand. If you don’t know what I mean, consider yourself lucky. Here’s Wikipedia’s primer on the offensive drivel you have been fortunate enough to avoid seeing on Twitter, in text messages, online chats and even e-mails. The key point is this one:

SMS language does not always obey or follow standard grammar, and additionally the words used are not usually found in standard dictionaries or recognized by language academies.

To my delight, there’s a section on criticism in the Wikipedia entry! Let’s see what it says before I launch into my own treatise against this linguistic malaise…. Hmmm, just 5 brief lines citing some Welsh journalist and a “scholar” who has actually refuted the criticism! Well, that’s just pathetic. 

I’ve heard that bloggers also like to make lists so in that spirit, here are 5 reasons to stop using text shorthand ASAP (that’s “as soon as possible” and totally permissible because it is an abbreviation, much like USA or TGIF).

1. It makes you sound like an amateurish teenager.

Have you ever said to yourself, gee, I’m a respected professional, but what I REALLY want is to be seen as a juvenile with a weak grasp on the English language? No? Then don’t use text shorthand. EVER.

Not working outside the home? You’re still not off the hook. Check your driver’s license. Are you an adult? Yes? Then there’s no reason you shouldn’t use full words and proper punctuation. Being a cool Mom or Dad and having your kids like you is one thing, turning into a kid yourself is quite another. And before you protest that your kids use it to communicate so you do too, spare me. It’s possible to understand a foreign language without speaking it. This should be no different. Only instead of being seen as cool and cosmopolitan when you use a foreign language, you’ll be viewed as dumb and classless when you use text shorthand. Furthermore, don’t you want to set a good example for your kids? If yes, text/e-mail/Facebook/tweet them in full sentences with correct spelling of all words. They’ll thank you later.

2. It makes you seem like you’re joking around ALL THE TIME.

Closely related to the first reason, this one is no less important. Can you imagine if Paul Revere had, instead of shouting “The British are coming!” texted all his pals that “OMG, the Brits R coming! U better run!” His friends would have thought it was a practical joke and had a good laugh before getting their heads blown off with cannons. 

There’s nothing wrong with a good joke, but do you want all your communiques to be perceived as such? Do you want to be taken seriously sometimes? If no, go ahead and keep using text shorthand. 

3. It makes you seem stupider than you actually are.

This might be the single best reason to quit. No doubt you would like to appear intelligent to others, regardless of what your actual intellect is. Using text shorthand is the quickest way to come off as an unmitigated moron.  

4. It actually makes you stupider.

I have no scientific evidence to back this up. You’ll just have to take my word for it. This will make you dumb the same way that watching too much TV and reading too little does the same. In fact, reading too little is what you’re doing on a micro level when using or consuming text shorthand. You’re actually reading less than a correctly spelled and constructed sentence would have required you to read. If you’re already having trouble getting through this post because it’s too long, then this is already happening to you. 

5. Do you REALLY need those extra characters?

If you’re trying to save space while composing a text or a tweet, ask yourself this question. Chances are, the answer is a big, fat NO. If it takes investing in a no limit texting plan, I beg of you to do it so that you may send as many messages as you like in order to get your point across using complete words and sentences. If the problem is that you’re just too lazy to key in a few extra letters, then I think we have much larger problems to discuss. 

If the issue is being able to get your point across in a quick, pithy manner then the good news is that this is a skill you can cultivate. You might actually learn some new words and learn how to express yourself better overall. You could then be well on your way to avoiding #3 and #4. Because as we all know, text shorthand is just one way to seem stupid. A poor vocabulary and poor communication skills are a few of the others.

If all this hasn’t convinced you, I’m not sure what more I can say. Perhaps I’ll simply direct you to a site that is probably more your speed.

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