I swear, this is truly a strange conflict, and so unique to the internet era. I think it might even have trumped the most recent evil argument, “Working versus stay at home moms.” I didn’t even know that was possible. I have never seen a group more defensive than those whose writing comes across as near-illiterate.
I care about good grammar (for myself) even in the context of emails or Internet message boards. I wouldn’t speak improperly just because I was ordering food at McDonald’s and not delivering a Presidential address. Nor would I consciously type things spelled wrong, punctuated wrong, or using the wrong form of a word. Not that it doesn’t happen; I haven’t met anyone yet who never makes grammatical mistakes! But it’s nuts not to think it affects a person’s image any less than any other part of herself that she puts out there. Put it this way. Say you have very nice hair. My guess is that you spend a good bit of time on it – adding product, straightening or diffusing, etc. before you go out, yes? Well I don’t give a shit about my hair. At all. I wash it and I comb it. And it doesn’t ever look very good. I am totally cool with this, but I would never expect someone to not judge me for it. Or, say you keep your kitchen spotless. And you go to someone’s house on a Wednesday afternoon and her kitchen is really, really dirty. I’m talking grease stains behind the stove, crumbs all over the floor, dirty dishes in both bowls of the sink, and a funny smell coming from the fridge. Do you still love your friend? Sure. But do you notice and dislike the ick?! Yeah, and if you say you don’t? Probably lying.
Because here’s a truth. We ALL judge each other. No matter how many times it’s denied, it’s how it works. The way we look, the way we act, the things we say, and the choices we make. And based on these judgments, we find our friends. The people we like, the people who interest us, and the people we connect with – the people we want to spend more time with. Just because we don’t always condemn people for our findings doesn’t mean we aren’t doing it.
The Internet age is special people, and loads of fun. We find ourselves putting more and more of our personal information, our quirks, and even deficiencies of personality and intellect right out into the world for anyone to see. And having good – or at least decent – grammar is as important to me as putting on deodorant and clean jeans. Neither how I write nor what I put on affects who I am on the inside, but both keep me from looking like a skeezy idiot.