Whatever Happened To...Communication Skills?

Saturday, February 09, 2013

I get some messages on OKCupid that are real doozies, but this latest one really took the cake:

Guys are that observant. We just know your fair looks nice. We not concearned with how women get the way they look. We are just happy they look nice. 
It s funny someone noticed a Victoria secret catalog in a photo I sent of cookies I made. 
But very nice profile I hope your search goes well 

What the...what? I have NO idea what this man was trying to say. There isn't anything in my profile that talks about men being concerned about looks. Victoria's Secret catalog...cookies...what? Not to mention the spelling mistakes. I assume he meant "hair" and not "fair." The message sounds like Cookie Monster wrote it. One initial thought was that English wasn't his second language. Anyways, it was so bizarre and non-sensical I simply had to respond:

Excuse me--is this an actual response to my profile? This message makes zero sense and is full of spelling and grammatical errors. NEXT.

He responded with this:

It was intended ado kind note. Sorry about that. My sense of humor does not translate well sometimes. My apologies. 
I was typing on my phone 

Yep, I could have guessed as much. The friggin' smartphone. Texting mistakes. More importantly, the inability to see how much of a doofus you come across as when you send someone on an online dating site a sloppy message that you texted up that's filled with spelling and grammar errors but oddly enough, no relevancy to anything whatsoever. (Sense of humor? His message was supposed to be funny?) By the way, I looked at this guy's profile after the fact and was baffled to see that he apparently was born in the U.S. and that he actually wrote a normal sounding profile. 

Not long ago I took a virtual dating trip around the world and viewed the profiles of guys in other countries. Amazingly, their profiles were written in far more impeccable English than a lot of American men's profiles. They seem to care more about first impressions and a few stated that they hoped their English was good enough to read. (They also dress and present themselves better than a lot of American guys online, but that's another post for another time.)

So what the hell has happened to communication skills? I guess technology has killed them--but that's still no excuse to me. 

I'm seeing moronic messages from strangers more and more and I don't like it one bit. I got a message a few weeks ago from a girl who wanted to sell Mary Kay to my social group members. Her message was exhausting to read as it was essentially one long run-on sentence with no punctuation or capitalization. 

I really want to ask these people that if they applied for a job this way, do they think they would get an interview? If you take a test on your way to becoming a doctor or lawyer by writing like you're in the 4th grade, do you think you would pass the exam? Why would you think anyone should take you seriously when you communicate like a caveman? If the texting keypad on your phone causes you to make several mistakes, then why not type a proper email using a friggin' computer?

And I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. This report that American students lack writing skills was no surprise to me. Maybe school administrators need to wrench their phones and tablets from their hands while they're in the classroom. 

Maybe I'm being harsh, but first impressions are everything and from now on, if one can't bother to spell or write a coherent sentence, they're not worth my time. The sad part is a lack of basic writing skills has now become expected; accepted, even, because of texting. Well, I simply cannot accept it. I didn't graduate from high school, go through college, hold jobs and start a blog with shitty language skills. 

Call it having standards. 


  1. Funny you should bring this up. I have an online friend who has a masters in English and I'm not sure if she's a teacher or tutor, but she gave her students an essay assignment regarding literature and its importance. She got back a paper that basically said reading and writing aren't as important as they used to be and it's an outdated notion to believe it is. She was very sad when she saw that, and so was I.

    It's not like I have impeccable grammar or language skills, but I do try to write things out properly and concisely. It represents who you are in so many ways.

    I'm not sure what all this means for our future, and I don't blame you for being taken aback by that guy's email. Wow.

  2. Well said Pam, and good for you--it does feel like this "dumbing down" is getting out of control (and a shudder went down when I read Amanda's excellent response).

    I've given up saying anything, but I'm constantly surprised in my office by the volume of emails, memos, documents, etc. that have things like "All paper's should be put in the recycle bin." Paper's?? Why are people inserting apostrophes into everything?!

    Anyway--that guy read like he was typing in his sleep! Sounds like his smartphone needs to be a little smarter ;)

  3. PS. I'm not any better--that was supposed to say "a shudder went down MY SPINE" :)

  4. @Apache Dog: lol! I knew what you meant, and you know what? It shows how much better you are at communicating than the guy who sent Pam that email!

    We all make mistakes when writing (I constantly skip over words and then see it later), but the point is we give a rat's ass! :)

  5. Thanks for the comments, Amanda and Doug! We all make typos...and I have caught some in my posts after the fact, no matter how many times I proofread it sometimes. You can't be perfect all of the time. But when one is reaching out to a stranger knowing that they could potentially change their life for the better, whether it's a romantic interest or an employer, they should really make some sort of effort. "Dumbing down" is the correct term for it. And Amanda, I feel sad, too, about what that student said about reading and writing...what the heck? I shudder to think what this means for future generations.

    Doug -- I've noticed the epidemic of unnecessary apostrophes being inserted into everything, too!

    Also, this is going to sound awful, but the guy who wrote to me was not very physically attractive at all. Knowing that you may be lacking in that area, wouldn't you try to compensate in other areas such as making sure you know how to write decently?

  6. I so agree. I work at a state college and as a librarian where I teach research skills. Everywhere I see kids immersed in their smart phones and computers, then they use the same bad grammar/spelling when they communicate in the online classes.

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