Dear Young People, Txtspk Is Killing You!

Dear young people, I get it, at this stage in your life you pay very little or no attention to some things and you couldn't be bothered. I understand the pressure to be hip and have “swag” but if you must do it, do it right.

You see, I’m not perfect, far from it but I strive daily to be a better person; life, work, relationship, etc. Like you, I’m still learning a lot and I’m at 0.0000000001% out of what I need to know. The road is long and truthfully, I don’t even see a destination. Like it’s been said,

My reward is in the journey itself.

You’re awesome and I love so many things about you, I do, trust me. My only gripe with you is the way you write, yes, your writing. You see, in the quest to follow the trend, to fit in and avoid the risk of being labeled "not hip" you have thrown away and paid little attention to one of the most basic and fundamental means of communication — writing — and it bothers me that you don’t see anything wrong with that. I've got news for you, everything is wrong in the way you write.

EVERYTHING!

Another One DJ Khaled

Why on on this beautiful earth would you spell “just” as “jex” and “success” as “suxes?” and all the other words you murder daily?

No seriously, why?

I think I have a sense of where this all started. A few years ago, circa 2002, GSM was introduced into Nigeria and I think for the first time, at least for me, you and I discovered the magic called SMS — short message service — and that’s where everything went downhill. The network operators at the time charged ₦15/160 characters and in the quest to fit in so much in one message some smart folks came up with these short-form writing that has almost become standard. You fell for it.

You have thrown away and paid little attention to one of the most basic and fundamental means of communication — writing — and it bothers me that you don’t see anything wrong with that. I've got news for you, everything is wrong in the way you write. Tweet

I understand you use this form of writing in informal conversations with your peers and it’s perfectly acceptable. The problem here is that you don’t know where to draw the line. In this new wave of social media where everything moves at incredible speed, you have been sucked into this new world and a good number of people are writing this way and you think it’s acceptable. You have gotten into the habit of writing this way for a long time so much so that your brain finds it hard to distinguish between formal and informal writing. Even when you write what I’ll consider a formal e-mail, you find it hard to switch context and you still use this short-form writing?


Idris Elba Frustrated

I cringe each time I see this.

This probably explains why those emails you sent to an older person never got a reply and unfortunately, you labelled them snobs.

Sad.

Don’t even get me started on your job application cover letters. I’ve been privileged to see a few and it wasn't pretty. The sad part is that the human resources department will never get back to you. You can’t hold them for that.

Why will they invest time and energy to craft a decent interview e-mail to you when you insulted them with what you wrote under the guise of a cover letter?

Listen, I’m not trying to throw you under the bus. No, this isn’t the case. I’ve been there, done that. I’ve moved past that phase. Thankfully, I wouldn’t go back there. Even if I tried. A few weeks ago, my older brother forwarded me an e-mail I sent to him back in 2004, needless to say, I cried.

Did I really write this?

I once struggled with my spoken English — I’m still learning the language. It was so bad, I could barely make a complete sentence without using filler words from pidgin English and boy, it was terrible. The first day I watched Frank Edoho of the famed Who Wants To Be A Millionaire present the show, I made a conscious effort to change.

From that day, I promised myself to try and speak without using pidgin words as fillers. It wasn’t easy at first but I persevered. Needless to say, I’ve improved but I know deep within me that I still have a long way to go. I still go around with a dictionary in my pocket.

Make that conscious effort today to switch. Push yourself to drop all manner of short-form writing. It will be hard but stay the course. It will be worth it, and stop that habit of starting a statement with “Am”, it’s “I’m.” Don’t do it again, it looks bad on you. You can do better.

Oh, and just in case you see any bad grammar or anything anti-pattern, call me out.

You know I do care about you, right?

I do.

Love always,
Your older brother, Celestine.

Celestine Omin

About Celestine Omin

Software Engineer at Konga, VC backed e-commerce in Nigeria. Lead maintainer and developer of NSEFinance, an experimental API for the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Convener of The Lagos GitHub meetup

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