My brother doesn’t use a space after a comma in his Facebook posts. That’s right; no space. But I love him—and converse with him online—anyway.
I correct grammar and punctuation for a living; but when a Facebook friend posts about the Golden Globes, hundreds of witty comments fly. If I stop to mentally correct the posts, or slow down to search for a better word to use in my own comment, I miss out. The topic has changed, and the conversation has passed me by.
I’m a little less forgiving about email (Can’t you see that glaring red squiggle?), but that often has to move quickly, too. When someone at work emails about a new project and I get inspired and start to reply, there’s a sure way to bring my momentum to a screeching halt: a follow-up email pointing out a typo in the original and suggesting how much it must drive me nuts. (Well, it didn’t until now, when I have to stop what I’m doing and give my editorial absolution!) I’ve had enough auto-correct ambushes of my own to know how to read around them and keep moving.
Of course, this does not mean I’ve put down my red pencil and declared correct spelling and grammar unnecessary. Emails to a client and ANYTHING on letterhead (even electronic) should be proofread before it’s sent. But social media is not formal communication, it’s a conversation. If my brother called to tell me his latest hilarious only-in-LA story, I would just listen and enjoy. So when he posts it on Facebook to tell all of his friends, I just read and enjoy.
In my perfect world, everyone would use impeccable grammar at all times. But the real world moves faster than the perfect one. Sometimes the most important thing is to keep up, and keep yourself in the conversation.