Friday, November 27, 2009

Is this really so hard?

If you, while walking down the street, saw a man flailing his arms, mumbling to himself, and jerking his head around wildly, you'd likely cross the street to avoid him. And doing so wouldn't constitute some kind of bigotry on your part. No, staying away from that man is absolutely the right thing to do. The chances of him grabbing you, striking you, or attempting to lick your face are significantly higher than they are for most strangers.

Informal social rules, although they seem arbitrary when you examine them closely, do serve an important purpose. A man wearing clean clothes is communicating something to the world around him. He took the time to buy those clothes, to wash them and fold them, to put them on before he left the house. "Hello," his garments say to society at large, "I am NOT here to murder you!"

So why is it that a person's writing is not subjected to the same kind of scrutiny as their behavior on the street? Why don't we look at bad writing and see it as suspicious, too?

And I'm not talking about little stuff. If you make the occasional spelling error, forget a punctuation mark, or even make a grammatical error, that's one thing. People make mistakes, and writing is a skill that not everyone has.

But if you write a paragraph's worth of information without a single capital letter or period, all your thoughts separated by ellipses, then you need to be put on some kind of watch list. Just like a man babbling to himself incoherently, that sort of writing shows a complete disregard for any human life around the speaker. It is nothing less than the telltale sign of a broken, tattered mind.*

*See also: My work inbox.

1 comment:

auchenpaugh said...

I often wonder if those people's thoughts are arranged in the same way. I find it hard to imagine that they think in complete sentences but can't translate that into written word. So that means that they must think the way they write, which is dizzying. How can they possibly comprehend anything if their thoughts are that muddy? Can any new knowledge or information possibly get through? I don't understand.