We live in a digital world where information is king, and the speed of doing most anything is paramount. Increasingly it doesn’t seem to matter whether the information disseminated is even true, just so long as it’s put in front of an audience. Publish and be damned is the motto.
But the result of this ‘need for speed’ is that errors are more likely to occur as checking, editing or proofing is no longer carried out to the same degree it once was. ‘Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip papers’ went the saying and, whilst newspaper has been replaced on the grounds of hygiene, the meaning was clear. What if there are a few spelling errors or some poor or even misleading grammatical issues? In a digital age the greater proportion of information is no longer printed, meaning that content can be changed without incurring cost but does accuracy – or truth – even matter if the message is got across?
We’re regularly told that Millennials, Centennials (Generation Z) and Generation Alpha simply don’t care about accuracy in the same way that those before did, that constant messaging and online apps have rendered spelling and grammar archaic and of little importance.
But does everyone born since the mid-80s really think like that? And if they do why are our Primary School children taught subordinating conjunctions and dependent adverbial clauses? I didn’t even know what they were until a friend’s 11-year old had to learn them*.
*If you don’t already know you can probably get by without knowing!
What may be the case is that, whilst those generations mentioned are capable (far more so than myself) of writing grammatically perfect prose, they are also far more flexible in their use of language; they make a distinction as to when it’s deemed necessary or important. Social messaging with their peers allows greater freedom, where tribal language is the norm, but most wouldn’t think of using such language when writing to a prospective employer for instance.
We regularly receive enquiries from students enquiring about employment opportunities or placements. Aside from the majority not being addressed to me directly (which is easy to do and makes a huge difference) there is little fault to be found in the vast majority of these emails and letters where the simple use of Word’s Editor feature catches errors.
The truth is spelling, punctuation, grammar and accuracy ARE still important in communication. It does make a difference as to how the writer is initially perceived and, in some cases whether the message is understood.
Failure can be embarrassing at best and in some cases horribly costly!
Here are some examples that you may find amusing, cringeworthy or even shocking…