I’m 30 years old.
But that’s not old, right?!
Yes, I’m a wife, and a mommy, and a homeowner with a 401K. But I’m still sort of with it. I know about Reggaeton, Rihanna, and Rocawear. I even know my way around MySpace, the hugely popular social networking website where just about everybody under 21 has a personalized web page.
Part of my job as a reporter is to be on top of pop culture and the Internet. But the other day, while browsing MySpace to research a story, I suddenly felt like a crotchety senior citizen.
What did it? The almost complete infiltration of IM Speak, the online shorthand so popular with kids today.
We all used a form of it back in the day, when passing notes to friends or signing a yearbook. KIT!, we would scrawl, short for Keep In Touch. Letters between me and my girlfriends were always signed BOFA!!, or Best Of Friends Always.
But kids today have taken that shorthand to the extreme. It has been combined with hip hop slang so that just about EVERYTHING is abbreviated, proper punctuation is almost nonexistent and even simple words are modified and misspelled. Here’s an actual message left on a high school kid’s MySpace page:
wen u evah gonna post dat pic…?
da one we took at da mall..
steo didnt gt ma app’ … i hate u..
i wanna wrk.. lol.. i want a dam job.. tyrd of sleepin and being bored.. u knw..
hey!!!! leavin u dat koment!!!! i nevr left u one b4 kuz i styl had ur old myspace n i 4-got which one was ur new 1. bt yea, im showin u sum of my love now!!! do da same!!
<SIGH.> I know they’re kids. I know they’re just using shortcuts and trying to be cool. What scares me are reports that some of these abbreviations are showing up in school assignments. What REALLY scares me is the prospect of a whole generation of kids that can’t properly express themselves via the written word. This kind of writing conveys a lack of intelligence and education…and I know I don’t want my kids perceived that way.
I don’t know why the proper use of language is so important to me, but it is. My grammar may not be flawless, but I always, ALWAYS try.
My little girl is only 15 months old, and already I am fervently reading to her in both English and Spanish. I look forward to the day she will start reading, and hope she will find solace in language, like I did.
If she ends up using this shorthand when she’s a teenager, I can just see myself freaking out on her. Is that rational? Probably not. In the end, as long as she has actually demonstrated the ability to write correctly, I guess I can let it go while she’s communicating with her friends. As a mother, I will do whatever it takes to ensure that her writing skills are up to par.
But it breaks my heart to think of all the kids out there who don’t have anyone to make sure they know how to write.
What will the future hold in store for them?