Spelling and Grammar

Hey grammar nazis, this one’s for you.

Back in March I linked to Ficlets. I’ve been a steady user of the site since then, and I’ve published 66 short stories there so far.

When I first found Ficlets, I enjoyed a fun literary culture similar to the one here on Wordie. The other users were intelligent, thoughtful authors; the atmosphere was encouraging and clearly valued good writing. A good number of the contributors were published authors in the real world of considerable fame, and it was fun to rub shoulders with them.

In two months, that has changed dramatically. I’m not sure what happened exactly, but it seems the site has been overrun with children. Generally I’m pretty laid-back about bad writing and will just overlook it, but it’s gotten to the point where nearly every Ficlet published reads more like a text message than a literary work.

In the good old days (ha ha) the serious writers would rank garbage as garbage: one star out of five. The hope was that people would get the message and step it up. Unfortunately they didn’t, and they now outnumber the rest of us. To add insult to injury, the kids consistently rank the worst stories with the full five stars so the entire ranking system is useless. Most of the good writers have apparently fled in terror by now.

There’s an underlying attitude here, I think. It’s apathy toward all things grammar, or more. Sometimes I detect outright contempt for it. It’s never capitalizing anything. It’s never breaking text into paragraphs. It goes beyond not knowing how to spell; it’s not _caring_ how to spell. It’s waiving the single- or (already extreme) double-exclamation points in favor of eight or ten or fifteen of them.

I don’t intend to use Errata as a soapbox for my frustrated rants — though it’s probably too late now — but I’d like to hear your thoughts. I’m concerned that SMS and “IM-speak” is bastardizing communication amongst the youngest generation. Is it really that important in the big picture? Are we dealing with lasting illiteracy or a short-term fad? What does a disregard for even the simplest writing conventions mean for the future in, say, thirty years?

I’ve become a grumpy old man. Get off my lawn.

(originally posted on the old errata by uselessness)