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The Importance of Being Intelligent – Even on Twitter

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on June 19, 2009

Today I saw this tweet from @YBAC: It’s easy to know y libs hate fox news: they hate facts,abore truth,their so idealistic they run from reality,& r intimidated by intellect

Given the 140 character limit on Twitter I can understand the need to shorten words, but this tweet was simply misspelled. Wanting to help this person make his partisan message more impactful, I sent the following: umm…it’s abhor* truth…they’re* so idealistic…i’m just saying..it’s tough to make a call on intellect with misspellings.

In my opinion I was not implying that the tweeter lacked intellect. I was stating that it is difficult to suggest an entire segment of people are intimidated by intellect when this tweet was misspelled. Now, I am not perfect. I have sent a tweet or two containing a misspelled word, but I immediately tweet the correction. I would not have been so quick to suggest this correction had I not also received the following from this same person: I think your talented and want to know if you find interest in our organization. What do u think of our mission and our service?

This is clearly a repeat offender.

Let’s dive further into this story. This person contacted me after reading through my bio on LinkedIn. I let it go when they misspelled my name in the reply to me. I passed on correcting the afore-mentioned tweet. I could not let the typos continue, though, in a message that was clearly seeking support. Logging back in after work (key point), I see this: U want to question MY intellect over some typos on twitter? You couldn’t finish college & cant find a job. lets call a trus.

Now, if I were someone who hadn’t talked myself through the struggles of not being able to finish paying for school, I would have been offended and hurt by this suggestive statement. My inability to finish college had nothing to do with lack of intellect. Further, if this person had actually paid attention to my bio on LinkedIn, they would have seen that I am, indeed, presently employed.

Here’s the ground up meat of this tale. This is someone who wants to develop a support network for their political organization: Young, Black and Conservative. In the offending tweet this person stated that liberals are intimidated by intellect. I won’t go into how that generalization cannot possibly be the foundation for any useful argument. I will, however, state that one cannot underestimate the importance of being intelligent in a forum as public as Twitter. If you are tweeting your own personal thoughts that have no association with any professional organization, make as many typos as you choose. Doing so, however, makes you appear as though you do not care about your personal brand. When you make these statements in representation of your professional organization, though, you had better be as close to perfect as possible. Not only are you representing your organization, but you are representing the people who work within that organization. Further, as an organization entitled young and black, you are representing two additional segments of society; and, I, for one, am tired of the stigma of ignorance that is placed onto both young people and black people.

Someone’s character is not judged solely by their time in the spotlight, it is judged by their time in the shadows, as well. I would hope that you would want yourself and your organization to be judged as professional and worthy of support based on well-researched arguments and intellectual discourse. My correction was only to help. Your response validates a notion written about in the Miseducation of the Negro: black people refuse to be led by black people for fear of one upstaging the other. I apologize if you think that I was trying to upstage you when I was only trying to help. In the future I hope your political statements are better researched than your attempt at an attack on me.

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14 Responses to “The Importance of Being Intelligent – Even on Twitter”

  1. lisabirch said

    so very well said! period.

  2. Dammit Andy said

    As a fellow grammar cop, I agree 100%. And when did it become okay to add ‘s to the end of plural words? That’s another one that drives me crazy in addition to the misuse of to/too/two, you’re/your, and their/they’re.

  3. Jesse said

    You are thinking way too hard about this.

  4. V said

    Maybe he was tweeting with typo’s so the stupid liberals could understand his profound message?

    If he spelled it all correctly it would just go right over their heads…

    ; )

  5. Noah said

    Especially on the internet I don’t put too much emphasis on spelling and grammar because there are a lot of people for whom English is not their first language. I can’t talk for @YBAC though.

  6. Many people seem to believe the idea that because “it’s just the internet” that it doesn’t matter how they present themselves. Whether it’s a message board, blog, twitter, facebook or whatever… if you’re taking the time to make a comment or express your thoughts, the LEAST you can do is make sure that what you are typing is spelled correctly and that you are using the correct forms of the words you choose. I agree that spelling (or misspelling) isn’t necessarily an indication of a person’s intelligence (or lack thereof) however, remember that 99% of the other internet users only know you based on what (and how) you get your points across in writing. If your stuff is all jumbled and spelled wrong, well…. you can’t really be upset if people aren’t taking you seriously.

  7. louisiana said

    I support Chanelle’s views on this, with 100 % effort! I do not believe she was displaying arrogance by correcting his typos. For as long as I cvan remember typos have stuck out to me-often to the point that its all that I can see. I also feel that his typos did not put his ignorance out there. It was his defensive attack of insults that he threw back at her! And he had the audacity to misspell those! Many typos are a result of typing too fast, but to use the wrong word? (Your). That just shows, in itself, that finishing college has very little to do with intelligence…

  8. louisiana said

    See? Even I make typos! Cvan?

  9. […] Chanelle Schneider put together a short post discussing the merits of taking the time to spell and use proper grammar while using Twitter. I have been doing a series of posts on how to use social media to build your persoanl brand, and one of the points I stress is that if you want to be taken seriously, then pay serious attention to how you present yourself. I have always said that if one is too lazy to communicate intelligently, then I have no time to help them. […]

  10. I do agree with everything you have said. I am guilty of not using ‘s in my tweets but as far as spelling out words. I prefer “REAL” English to whatever else is out there.

    It totally annoys me when people use TEXTING language I think this is called? You don’t need to use numbers when posting updates on Facebook or Twitter. This isn’t a SMS message where some of us are using a number pad to talk.

    People need to realize Google remembers and it is a reflection of you when you are commenting and leaving status messages.

  11. Thanks for all the comments, everyone! My point with writing this was to get across the idea of thinking about the consequences of your actions on the Internet. It was a post written in reaction to what happened, but I realized the learning opportunity in it, as well. I do feel that there is room to be casual. Occasional slips into slang are, generally, okay. As I stated in the post, though, it is not appropriate to use that tone when inquiring on a professional level. It is very short-sighted to think otherwise.

  12. CASUDI said

    I have had an ongoing conversation with the writer of “Startup Professional Musings” on this very subject and commented on his post …… “Google Never Forgets” http://blog.startupprofessionals.com/2009/07/entrepreneur-remember-google-never.html

    Your post sends an important message, it’s not just the word shortening, misspellings (guilty when speed takes over) but the idea that you can be stuck with what you post on the internet for a long time. @CASUDI

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