Found myself in an interesting conversation yesterday that sprang out of that scourge of the internet: Typonese, something that even the most ardent spellcheckers amongst us have fallen prey to whilst in the throes of conversation.
The argument being made was that there are people on sl who can feel uncomfortable, even intimidated, when in the company of others as a result of their typos, particularly when other members of the group assiduously and religiously correct all their own errors with the ubiquitous asterik on the fly. *asterisk. Or – worse still – draw attention to the typos of others. My own experience is that this is rarely done maliciously: it’s far more likely to occur from a genuinely humorous situation, or at worst, takes the form of gentle mockery amongst good friends. It’s never occurred to me that others, whose command of the language may be inadequate, or may be conscious that their typing is simply not up to the mark, might struggle in such a situation.
There’s lots of reasons that we might succumb to rented finger syndrome – tiredness, distractions, unfamiliarity with the language, multi-tasking, laughing, clumsiness, rushing to get the words out and plain bad typing, to name but a few; then there’s the technical and physical problems – stuck keyboards, flat batteries and unfamiliar equipment, (i changed my keyboard 6 months ago and i still routinely manage to type ‘yuo’ and ‘cuold’, no matter how hard i try not too!).
i can see how someone might feel a little intimidated when finding themselves in the midst of seemingly more proficient typists, and i can understand how that can be compounded by drawing attention to slips of the fingers, particularly in a medium like sl, where so much communication takes place by way of the written word.
Then there’s the poor spelling and grammar – completely unrelated to typos – that crops up in conversations on a fairly regular basis – i’ve seen some pretty awful examples from people that i’ve not expected them from – at times, they’ve made me cringe! – but it’s not something i’d ever point out to anyone, and i can’t say that i think any less of the people who’ve ever come up with questionable English – i daresay i’ve managed a few howlers in my time too!
SL being what it is, it’s a rash person who makes an instant judgement about anybody’s ability – so what if someone’s conversation is awash with typos? – It’s no indication of the intellect, ability or circumstances of the person behind them and if we’re going to get so hung up on it that our mind insists on inserting ‘How’s my typing?’ tags above everyone’s head, then we really do need to get a SLife.
Of course, we will tend to look at how someone expresses themselves through the keyboard in much the same way that we use a person’s voice in rl in order to develop an impression of them – it’s also likely that we may give it more weight because we lack the visual signs: the body language and non-verbal communication that we’re used to relying upon in the real world. (Although i’d argue that we have plenty of visual communication going on in sl by way of attire, avatar, gestures, AO and profile). If this is true, don’t you think that the manner in which someone types can be an equally rich source of information as the spoken word? Typing has its own accents, traits and inflections, in much the same manner as the human voice – maybe they’re expressed in a visual form rather than aural, but they’re there, all the same.
Few of us would dismiss someone as uneducated or slow, just because they had an accent, a stutter or a manner of speaking unlike our own – perhaps the same can be said to be true of how we perceive someone through their keyboard? Just a thought!
The conversation went on to other things, which i thought were equally interesting – so i’ll talk about that tomorrow.
Do you have the time
To listen to me whine
About nothing and everything
All at once
Greenday – Basket Case