Is the informality of email and social media leading to the ruin of the English language? Is proper grammar and correct spelling going the way of the wired telephone? The answers to those questions are troubling many corporate communications executives.
We have come to accept slang and shortcuts in our electronic communications. The grammar used is often spotty and let’s politely assume that the numerous misspellings we see are typos.
So a tweet contains “c u l8er” instead of “see you later” in order to save space in a message with a maximum of 140 characters. Later in a text message you might read “Mary and myself will handle that.” Then a news release posted on a company Internet site may include that the “Acme Corp. is known for providing their customers with world-class service.” That may not be a problem among friends, but that same writing style is unacceptable when used in external corporate communications.
The blame for our eroding standards is often placed on younger employees who have been raised in a social media era. That’s not entirely fair. All of us regularly engaging in social media take many of the same shortcuts and make many of the same grammatical and spelling mistakes.
We just have to consider social media communications as a different language. The way we communicate to friends via Facebook or Twitter is fine. But, for the time being, that informality has no place in the way we communicate on behalf of or our employers or clients.
In time, much of the social media vernacular will become an accepted part of the language. But until then, we need to remind ourselves — and our employees — of the need for accurate and clear communications in a business setting.