How Internet Communication Destroys Writing Standards among Teens

I do not claim to be Mister Perfect when it comes to writing. I don’t care if my choice of words is horrendous, my thoughts abominable, my spelling gruesome. I could be the most mediocre writer in the history of the world, in your eyes.

I can hang my hat on one thing, though: my grammar is impeccable; that is, compared to most of the language butchers that are teenagers nowadays. How the hell did these kids make it through high school?

He’s not going too the store, he’s going TO it. There not going with him, THEY’RE going with him. And your not annoying me with your poor grammar, YOU’RE annoying me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have used my fair share of “r u gonna go 2 the mall 2day?” on AOL Instant Messenger while chatting with my closest of kin, but never would I hand in an English paper with that crap on it. I thought the buck stopped at high school; no way could these D students get into college when their essay says “I really wanna get into ur school”, right? WRONG! The first peer editing workshop (or “professor has the students do their job for them day”) in my college writing class almost brought tears to my eyes. My red pen didn’t have enough ink. When someone told me, as I was editing their paper, they were a 4.0 student in high school, I threw up in my mouth a little. It was the same, if not worse, than what I’d seen from my high school classmates.

My gut reaction is to blame the teachers, the education system in general, and the kids’ parents. But then, I knew some kids in high school who had great teachers, went through the same system as me, and had caring, loving parents who pushed their children to excel in school. No, these kids didn’t have a distinct disadvantage. So I had to think of a new theory on why another 25 year old graduate student just wrote on my Facebook wall telling me that “we need two hang out soon”.

Then came my epiphany. The blame goes completely on spell check, teachers’ hand writing, and the Internet.

Why spell check is evil: it only underlines the word you misspelled, without telling you why it’s wrong. Simply right click the underline and select “change” and you’ve got the correct spelling.

So a student (we will call him “Billy”) hands in an already spell checked “rough draft” to the teacher. When Billy gets it back, it’s full of red marks and explanations of what’s wrong. Billy will fix what’s marked as wrong with what’s correct. Billy tries to make out the teacher’s explanation for why it’s wrong, but can’t read it at first glance because the teacher writes too small. He doesn’t feel like asking the teacher in class because he knows he corrected all his mistakes – even if he doesn’t know how – and is going to get an A. So there you have it. Mrs. Easy-Street just helped clueless Billy get into Yale.

Since Billy doesn’t know what, fundamentally, is wrong with his grammar he continues to use incorrect phrases such as “My mom let’s me use the car on weekends” on things such as AOL Instant Messenger, Facebook, and MySpace. These three utilities allow Billy to practice his bad habits every single day of his life. It’s like sending a bulimic to throw-up camp.

With my luck, I probably misspelled 100 words and messed up 100 other things grammatically and structurally. Whatever. You got my point. And if I did mess up a lot, guess what? I was Billy for a long, long time.