Aug 3, 2012

Fat-finger Fumbles and grammatical travesties

The goriness of brutalized grammar on social websites has now surfaced in my life as an 'issue' for about the 523rd time. We've all encountered these travesties of vocabulary and grammer: they're/their/there, quite/quiet, its/it's, your/you're, to/too, then/than and so on. My friend Nan recently wrote a lucid opinion that got me started (watch this space for a link to it).
I seem to know as many victims as perpetrators of said crimes. However faulty grammar is a poor bidder for my emotional bandwidth, perhaps because there are so many more powerful daily irritants ahead in the queue, like judgementalism, boasting and self-promotion.
There’s also the fact that with the plethora of devices at our fingertips, a thought has barely to form inside our heads before we spit it out to our cyber communities via cell phone, laptop, tablet etc. As if it wasn’t bad enough that some of us shoot off at our regular mouths regularly, now we’re enabled to do it electronically too. I once told my friend Jessica “I saw you eating watermelon naked”, referring to a baby picture of her I saw at her mom’s house. Of course it took for an office full of howling co-workers for me to glom onto and then qualify my gaffe (and no, they didn’t let me OR Jessica forget for a while). Imagine now if that had rippled out beyond the 8 people in my office to the Twitterverse or Facebook? Like there aren’t enough Chandreyee-isms floating around out there to keep me embarrassed forever?
That’s the thing with communication, see…..the whole synergy thing applies. It's more than just a sum of traded words and phrases. To illustrate, here's an exchange with my son (then 3.5 year old) that stuck with me.
Oyon: I want juice
Me: I want juice "please"
Oyon: No, I want juice.
Me : I know but it's "I want juice PLEASE"
Oyon: But I want juice!
Me: That is so rude! "I. Want. Juice. PLEASE." okay?
Oyon (bawling now): But I asked first. It's NOT Mamma's turn for juice, it's MINE!
This particular comedy of errors got sorted out almost as soon as it unfolded because it happened in real timem in person and thus and with effortless ease. Most impulsive internet posts do not have this kind of shelf life. I’m not entirely sure my clarification of the above persisted either, come to think of it: just yesterday I caught Oyon eyeing me suspiciously when I poured him a glass of after-school juice. He turned his back to me slightly as he slurped it down and I’m sure I saw a bright little eye peeking above the rim of his glass, tracking my movements to ensure I wasn’t going to hijack his drink. Maybe it’s time to have the talk about the ‘juice’ grown-ups prefer. Or I could just teach how to spell ‘martini’.
Anyway, armed with the foreknowledge that I am likely hearing only part of someone’s impulsive, incomplete and hurriedly typed out thought - a grammatical misstep doesn’t immediately indicate ignorance to me. I realize how condescending that last sentence sounds but sadly it’s true: I HAVE written off our entire population as basically being a bunch of idiots who don’t know how to complete a thought. Too little time and too many thoughts (many of them useless but still...). WHat's more, I count myself firmly within that group, and unapologetically so. After all EVERY thought is incomplete at core….it’s only valid until another one comes along and makes you revise your previous opinion. If you're open-minded that is. Other than ‘Thou shalt not kill’, almost everything is up for grabs ….and even that one sometimes makes me pause for thought.  Like say, when a certain little someone spills milk on the difficult-to-clean couch for the 5th time in a week. Since he’s 5 and cute, I’m usually able to overcome temptation but you get my drift.
Perhaps the other reason I don't bristle is because of how often I'm culpable. My presence on FB (my only cyber social network) is almost fully staged from my iPhone, in short spurts jammed into free moments stolen out of busy days. This makes Fat-finger Fumbles, Auto-correct Anomalies and Pocket-dialed Puzzlers my close friends.
I know, I know....I'm just asking for divine retribution for inflicting this level of annoyance on my general public, but no-one's un-freinded me yet for it (that I know of). I made a half-hearted attempt to pull up my socks when my pal V'ee offhandedly commented 'You know don’t you, that your statuses are completely incomprehensible these days?' but she seemed more amused than upset so my resolve didn’t last long. She's known me a long time, from way before auto-correct had anything to do with my incoherence so her baseline expectations from me are very realistic (read 'low'). 

And therein lies my point: that it takes more than a few slips in articulation and/or grammar to define someone.
Being as intimate as I am with so many peoples' despair I should probably care more about causing them such irritation, but I don’t. That's because I know that friends who know me and care to hear my opinions in the first place will do the effortless mental substitutions and unscrambling it takes to glean the points I want to make. An entire company (French Connection U.K. AKA FCUK) based their marketability on the premise that this is an inherent skill that we exercise unconsciously and effortlessly all the time.
In fact, it can even be a relationship/community builder. Lookit: one day, my iPhone posted this FB status (I had probably sat on it):
               V pm bbl l blob khchoz
In the comment thread that developed thereafter I misspelled romantic as 'tomantic'.
To which my friend Asub replied:
              Your'e not a tomantic blob, kchoz! PM me for V bbl! L
See? My friends even enable me!
I created a drink that night and named it the 'V bbl'. It helped me finish a short story I was writing for my critique group but I like to think of it as my thank you to friends who chose to laugh with, rather than at me. Please sip it and remember me every time you feel land-mined by a grammatical error or mis-spelling in a public space. There can be humor everywhere if only you choose to see it.
And like with everything else in life....a martini will only help.
V bbl Martini
2 oz Tequila
3/4 oz Red Grapefruit juice
4 drops Angosturra bitters
Splash of lemon
Shake - if you need to vent
Stir - if you're already mellow

1 comment:

  1. brilliant!
    there is hope for people like me yet.i wish i could show how spatulate ended my fingers are ,and how thoroughly msmatched they are to the miniscule intricacies of the i phone keypad, take with this my impatience at shooting off a status update as soon as the thought hits,and you have the rescipe for typo heaven or hell.