I was reading a LinkedIn post the other day concerning education in America. The writer was well educated and experienced. Most of the people responding had alphabet soup after their names.
The conversation was civil, and the replies showed deep thought.
Those participating were obviously concerned and looking for answers.
With that elevated level of discussion, anyone would expect a display of strong writing skills. There were a few minor mistakes in the original post. Considering its length, the mistakes were, if not acceptable, at least excusable.
In the replies, there was a discord between degreed people discussing problems with the educational system and the grammar and usage mistakes they made. There’s a real problem of credibility when someone decrying the state of the schools in this country doesn’t know the difference between then and than; its or it’s; there, they’re, or their.
“Come on! It’s the Internet. People make mistakes.”
Look, I understand the nature of the medium, but that doesn’t mean I ignore the irony. If anything, the speed and pervasiveness of the Internet makes it much more important for a writer to pay attention to the impression she projects.
So many times we rush to get in on the conversation. Yet this is a written conversation, and it requires adherence to a set of rules.
Educated posters who make mistakes in grammar are like opera divas who sing off key. So how can we avoid this dissonance?
Take the time to look over posts and correct mistakes before clicking the post icon. This is hard to do in the heat of a conversation, but even a short reply should be looked over for mistakes before sending it off into social networking land.
Read it out loud
One of the best tips I ever received and am always happy to pass on is to read whatever is written out loud. It is truly amazing how many mistakes and awkward sentences a person can avoid by doing this.
Know your grammar gremlins
It is important to be familiar with the writing mistakes we make, so we can be sure to correct them. We can’t destroy our writing reputations with careless, consistent errors.
Speed is the boon and bane of the Internet. We rush to get our two cents’ worth out there at the risk of our credibility. It’s easy to type out and post a reply quickly, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Take a little time to clean up those posts. The Internet will still be there.