Is it me, or has letter writing become literally LETTER writing? I have come across many emails (since we all know “letter writing” is of a virtual matter now) that have taken on a shorthand that is troubling to say the least: “I soure think u r bewtyfull. And if u want i will soure have babys with u.”
Yes, this was an actual e-mail I received from an admirer, which I had to read twice before I could fully believe that this person thought I would seriously consider starting a family with him based on this email. Have Ebonics penetrated our literacy so much that people don’t even know when they aren’t really writing intelligibly? I gasp to even go there, but the truth of the matter is that maybe it should be pointed out since there are those, such as this gentleman, that actually think they will entice someone to connect with them with the skills they are presently utilizing.
Please know that I definitely take into consideration the ever growing i-Phone/Android and texting community. I do recognize that there is this form of texting Ebonics due to the shear fact that typing and driving at the same time is difficult when it is also imperative to smoke, shift gears, and change the radio station in order to make typing and driving a little more bearable. What I do not understand is how this sort of texting of cracked-out phonetic, broken English became okay for everyday emails?
My point here is that there seems to be a formality that has been forgotten when people get online and attempt to form new connections. Respect is the forgotten formality. Respect not only for the language that enables us to connect, but also respect in oneself to put the “best foot forward” when trying to forge a new relationship.
I just don’t know. Maybe some people truly forget they are not in front of a person, where their body language, speech, style, etc...aren’t able to be used to present themselves. All there is online is proper grammar, spelling, and how a sentence is phrased for someone to connect with another. Online, people don’t have that instantaneous luxury of looking at the person to gauge the person’s speech patterns and what he/she is all about.
It is sad to think there are people who have no clue why they aren’t getting return e-mails. So, with this article I hope to shed the light for some, and bring attention to the idea that although a thesis-like e-mail isn’t necessary to start a new friendship online, basic grammar and spelling (even just a spell-check before you send) are a must--especially if you are trying to profess your commitment to having “babys” with someone.
Originally published in In the Scene Magazine