Gordon Ramsay Should Police the Internet…

While I nurse my broken hand and try to find the fun in typing either one handed or snapping my wrist repeatedly every hundred words or so, I tend to keep Netflix open; I’m one of those people who can’t work in silence and my iTunes library is more prone to having me sitting there singing along – thus driving the coyote and the pet artist nuts – rather than concentrating on the words I drop on the page or screen.

The latest binge watch on Netflix has been Kitchen Nightmares; you know, that lovely program where Gordon Ramsay screams a lot, people screw up and tell him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but by the end they all come together and make some awesome food (or so the script would have us believe.)

What does that have to do with horror writing? Not much, you’d think. But given recent participation in a few creepy pasta projects and general internet exposure, one thing Ramsay says – repeatedly, with more gusto each time – is “You have to have standards!” And that is something that is true across the board.

To me, it’s bad enough reading texts, Tweets or Facebook posts littered with the broken remains of what might have been words. “luv u 2,” etc, etc. It’s become so invasive that tech savvy individuals, even the strictest grammar nazis, have realized there is no educating or fixing available for this; the choice is “learn to read it and deal or go on a homicidal rampage.” That’s infuriating. It’s disgusting. We bemoan our educational system, we whimper about the hundreds of learning disabilities that folks are supposedly afflicted by, we blame the teachers, and yet we see grown adults typing and writing like that and accept it as the norm.

But you know what? Fine. Whatever. It’s painful, but homicidal rampage will not fix it and playing the grammar nazi will only result in tears. For the nazi, not the perpetrator.

But more and more I find things on story websites – Creepypasta, Wattpad and others – or on my Kindle that are written in this same arcane dialect. I find proud declarations from authors and writers that “my stuf iz teh best u shuld red it!” which, once upon a time, would have gotten them a pat on the head and a puzzled walking away, but are now earning 4 and 5 star reviews, hundreds of likes/retweets/reblogs and only inspiring more of the same.

It’s distressing. An author’s art is to find the right words, to spin them into a cloth of myth and fantasy that others can believe in, enjoy, immerse themselves in. The words, those little building blocks and stray threads that get you there, are the bloody point of the thing. To demean and abuse them in this way – and then to be applauded for it – is as close to sacrilege as anything is as liable to get for me, at least until I finish Scarlet Gospels and scamper off to join Pinhead – ahem, sorry, the Hell Priest (Don’t hurt me, Pinsy! Please? No?) – in his little corner of Hades.

Note that I’m not talking about those who use strange spellings, awkward or incorrect grammar or stilted flow as part of the tale. Phonetic speech is fine – and often entertains me immensely – and using words in an odd way or deliberately working against type and standards as part of the creative effort is something that works for some folks, is part of their lure. Check Elmore Leonard or Chuck Palahniuk for examples of that. Nor am I talking about honest (and hopefully uncommon) mistakes, or stuff that, while bland (and arguably bad) at least has the semblance of a complete sentence or thought in it (yes; by this standard it does mean that E.L. James and Stephanie Myer have been elevated, however reluctantly.)

I’m talking about the people who, knowingly or not, completely butcher their language of choice and expect the reader to perform their own Rosetta Stone miracles to find meaning in the text. That should be un-fucking-acceptable. But you see it more and more.

So for the love of whatever Gods you hold to, please. Please. Don’t write in Netspeak. Skip the 3133+. Remember that it’s “you,” not “u,” (and to think, we used to worry about you’re/your!). I get that it’s not always possible, especially in some forms of social media where character limits matter, but  could people at least try? Pretty please?

Otherwise we need to start a coalition to get Gordon Ramsay working on “Internet Writing Nightmares.” Followed by Simon Cowell’s “Grammar Nazi Talent Scout.”

Christ, I sound pretentious as hell this morning, don’t I? “You’re assaulting my pwetty words! Stahp it!” (Damn phoenetics, creeping in! Back, beasts!) But… c’mon, folks. I can’t be the only one who finds this trend upsetting, and especially not the only one claiming to be a writer who gets irked at this sort of thing. So… discuss! Your opinions, thoughts, flames and arguments in favor of the opposition are more than welcome down below!



8 responses to “Gordon Ramsay Should Police the Internet…

  1. Yesterday, after several go-rounds with a misogynistic jerk who belittled someone else for being a nurse when the poster claimed to be in medical school, I made the remark that “Apparently English grammar and spelling are not prerequisites for Medical school.” I was then accused of being RACIST because apparently being grammatically correct and able to spell is something that is inherent to white people and not achievable by minorities. [insert face-palm]

    No, I do not believe that to be true. I believe that, aside from those who suffer from dyslexia or other learning disabilities, proper grammar and spelling can be achieved by anyone who puts in the effort. I watch my own daughter struggle, but she tries, and she uses tools like “spell check” to improve her work.

    Most mistakes are created by typographical errors, especially as people are typing on cellphones with their thumbs, but things like “u” and “ur” are just lazy. Why is it that using the entire word makes one’s IQ seem about forty points higher?

    If you’ve never watched it before, I HIGHLY recommend the following video:

    • That’s one of the many wonderful things about today, it seems; point out one flaw in logic or behavior, and suddenly you’re attacking a whole race, gender, sexuality or religion. Ugh.
      So far as watching IQs rise when people speak/type coherently, I suspect that is the natural reaction… at least from folks who remember when accuracy and clarity used to count for something… which makes me sound like some old curmudgeon sitting on his porch with a shotgun. “Damn whippersnappers, we used to have to walk barefoot in the snow, uphill, both ways, for a dictionary! And get off my lawn!”

  2. Oh, I agree completely with everything you have said!!!!! My teenaged boys give me a really hard time about using punctuation in my texts – however, they have desisted from doing this recently as it usually brings forth a tirade about how the English language is being completely destroyed by social media. I tell them I will never ever stop spelling out the words completely, nor will I forget to capitalize or punctuate. And while we are on the subject of texting, I would really like to design some type of weapon which can used on people who look at their telephones and walk, not watching where they are going. Maybe some type of ray gun, that flips the phone out of their hands onto the ground. Something like that. Or a device that makes them trip. I must go away and think about this.
    Great post!!!!

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