The Post-Literate Population

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People are illiterate, using the wrong words carelessly and not checking so it goes past spellchecker. Laziness is begetting illiteracy.

I see this in my job – an ordinary job, not in the writing field, but one that requires literacy and written communication nonetheless. Emails are written to clients who are supposed to be able to understand them. Some of these clients don’t quite grasp the proper interpretation of language, but all too often these professionals – the ones I work with and the ones I work for – are just writing the wrong things. They’re the wrong word or the wrong form of the root word, so they pass spell check. But the email was written in haste or they just don’t bother to check anything assuming they can do no wrong. Sigh.

Then there’s tone. It’s hard to convey in a clear way. I don’t use multiple exclamation points, but I use single ones far more often than I would if I didn’t have to focus on positive rapport in my work. Others use too many exclamation marks, or use them to punctuate every sentence!!! Some people put question marks where they’re not necessary? And why do some people not use question marks when they should.

With informal text, including here as I’m not being paid, I can bend the rules of punctuation, and I don’t always take the time to proofread so I can make the occasional mixup of words. Please call me out when I do. When misspelling and not doing anything about it is a clear habit, how do we deal with that? How can we tactfully advise of these corrections to lateral colleagues?

Is there a support group or any available counselling for this moral dilemma?

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