At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, I can’t help but rant about the creeping specter of textspeak in everyday communications. With smartphones and full keyboards, there’s no excuse to not spell out your words!
I have a big fear about the future of the written word. No, I’m not about to give you an anti-eBook screed; you’ll never see me parting from my beloved Kindle. And I think Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post is very intriguing. Rather, I am terribly afraid for the literal words, as more and more textspeak is making its way into everyday and professional contexts.
Years ago, when everyone was rocking Moto RAZR, all phones had tiny numeric keyboards, and text messages capped at 160 characters, shortening words made some sense. It was more economical for your fingers and your letter count to shorten “to” to “2”, or “you” to “u”. But technology has moved forwards, and phones these days come with full keyboards, both default and third-party like Swype. Most smartphones seamlessly handle text messages with multiples of 160 characters, and if you have a smartphone,then you likely have unlimited texting as well.
Worse than text messages, though, are emails. What really set off this rant today was an email sent to me in a professional context that substituted “2” for “to” and “u” for “you”. It makes it really hard to take something seriously when it reads like a teenage girl texted it on a bedazzled iPhone. But stop and think further for a moment: Email has no character cap, if you’re typing an email on your iPhone then, you have a full keyboard to work with; that email, for a professional purpose, is likely to get replied to, forwarded, and possibly resurface in the future. Getting an email that says “Hey, u hve time 2 meet ltr 2day?” doesn’t make me think “What a wonderful opportunity!” Instead, it makes me think “Did my teenage niece get hold of my work email?”
What really scares me is that this isn’t an isolated incident. I’ve seen this come up again and again, and it makes me wonder: Maybe Orwell’s newspeak wasn’t doubleplusgood or ungood, but simply OMG LOL tlk 2 u ltr!
Does textspeak raise your hackles and make you want to call the grammar police? Or do you just roll your eyes and move on with your day?