These days, with social media becoming a part of our everyday lives it is increasingly important how you present yourself in writing in the online world. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and other such social media platforms have become an important part of the way many of us communicate on a daily basis. Because of their immediacy and reach, these are very powerful ways of communicating instantly with large numbers of people, worldwide. However, if you don’t pay careful attention to the quality of the posts you make online you could be hurting yourself in ways you haven’t even thought of, or can’t even imagine.
Last week I saw a good example of this on Facebook (FB).
A post appeared on my normal Facebook feed page that was made by a person whom I don’t even know. The reason I saw that post in my FB feed is because someone who I have “friended” at some point in time, simply clicked on the “like” button under that particular post on their own FB feed page. (They could have also chosen to “share” that post and I would have seen it on my FB feed for that reason). In this particular case the person who made the original post, whom I don’t even know, had decided to go into some sort of written word rant about how they were very upset with people who used animal and cartoon images as their Facebook profile picture. This person wanted only photos of the actual person to be used, and they were therefore going to “unfriend” anyone on their FB friends list who used an image other than their own photo. That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that if that’s what that person chooses to do. It so happens in this case that the person’s little rant also made numerous disparaging remarks about the characters and motives of the people who don’t use their own photo on Facebook.
But the real kicker was that the individual’s rant was absolutely riddled with errors in basic English spelling and grammar! (To the point where I almost did my own rant about that right then and there!)
The moment I noticed that the person who had made that post seemed to be bordering on illiterate, yet had the audacity to make a widely public written-word rant, they lost all credibility in my eyes. Whatever point they were trying to make about the FB profile photos suddenly became meaningless to me. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to dismiss this person based on the poor quality of that post.
Listen up people! It is extremely important to your reputation and your credibility just how you present yourself in your social media posts, because those may well be seen by thousands of people worldwide. After all, you don’t want to look like an idiot to people around the world do you? Although, looking like a fool should be the least of your worries if you make poorly written posts on social media nowadays; as I point out in the following paragraphs.
Employers are Watching
Prospective employers are routinely checking out the Facebook and Linkedin profiles of job applicants these days. If you have made a (bad) habit of riddling your posts with spelling and grammatical errors, chances are that this will be noticed and taken into account by hiring managers. Any job that requires at least high school graduation will require adequate basic writing skills. Seriously, don’t shoot yourself in the foot this way and get screened out of a competition based on poor social media posting habits!
College Admission Staff Are Watching
Admissions staff at universities and colleges are also checking out the online posts of applicants these days. Do you want to present yourself as semi-illiterate to a college or university because your posts are full of spelling and grammar mistakes? The worst thing about this is that if you get “screened out” by applications staff for your poor social media posts, you’ll never even know that this was the main reason you didn’t make the cut!
Prospective Dates Are Watching
It’s not only prospective employers and college admission people who will be checking out the quality of your posts these days. I was recently talking to someone who regularly uses online dating websites such as match.com, PlentyOfFish, zoosk, eharmony, etc. She was telling me that the moment she sees a dating profile that is poorly written and/or filled with errors, she immediately dismisses that person as a legitimate dating prospect. She told me that I would be surprised about how many people claim to have college level education and then post a profile that is rife with errors in spelling and/or grammar. In fact, she uses the quality of writing in online dating profiles as a screening tool for narrowing down her field of dating prospects. Those profiles with significant errors get deleted during her very first pass. I’m sure she is not alone in doing this!
Please note that above I’m not even talking about the subject/content of your posts on social media. I’m simply talking about the way in which you use the English language in a very public forum. And this doesn’t only apply to social media posts. I recently read Aziz Ansari’s book “Modern Romance” (Penguin Press, 2015), in which he states that poorly written sms text messages are a turn-off and sometimes a deal-breaker for many people during the initial phases of dating.
My best advice on this? ALWAYS have a grammar and spell checker program installed and running whenever you compose any type of social media post or text. Also, after drafting even the shortest of messages, STOP and read it over BEFORE you send it. Correct any errors and edit it for clarity if necessary. Think to yourself whether you would understand receiving such a message if you were the intended recipient.
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