Writing: Does it matter?

Writing is hard.

Let’s be real, English doesn’t really make sense. There are so many inconsistent rules about spelling and grammar that it’s easiest just to ignore them. After all, who cares about grammar when everything you write is limited to 140 characters or less? Spelling out long words and using proper punctuation is seen as a waste of time in texts, tweets and Facebook posts. Proper English and texting slang are becoming so different that knowledge of one does not necessarily guarantee understanding of the other; they’re practically two different languages. While it may seem that decent writing skills are unnecessary in this age of technology and social media, written word is actually more important now than ever before. We are able to communicate with people around the world and share original content with anyone we wish. Not to mention, future potential employers are able to look back at every poorly crafted sentence you have posted to your social media accounts.

On the Internet, people continue developing platforms on which anyone can document their thoughts and opinions. From MySpace to Facebook, WordPress to Tumblr, those of us born in the ’90s and beyond grew up surrounded by seemingly infinite ways to publish our original content. Whether this content is a picture from our vacation, a few sentences about the latest episode of “The Bachelor” or 1,500 words on the upcoming presidential election, we are free to post whatever we please. All you have to do is generate unique content and share it online. Take advantage of the opportunities you have to raise your voice, whether that be through your school newspaper, a personal blog or even your Twitter page.

Why does this matter?

For the first time in history, not only are we all free to write about any topic, but we also have the ability to share our words with the world. When people learn English as a second language, they are taught proper grammar. Your stories will have less impact on a global audience if you share your thoughts through slang and misspelled words. In fact, even your peers will be less interested in what you have to say if you fail to utilize the English language correctly. All of us could make a difference with the words we write by sharing the unheard voices of our community and telling the stories that people need to hear. Through writing, we can teach others about the world we live in and inspire them to make a difference.

Okay… but I don’t want to be a writer…

Of course, not everyone has a desire to instruct or influence through writing. Those people should not be exempt from learning the basic skills of written communication, though. Even on social media, the quality of original posts matters. People are more likely to “like” and share content that appeals to them. If two people with the same followers on Twitter post tweets on the same subject, but one mistakenly says “your” instead of “you’re,” which one do you think is likely to get more positive response? Maybe this mistake seems irrelevant to you. It’s such a minute detail, and nobody likes a grammar Nazi who goes around correcting people’s mistakes on a casual site like Twitter.

It’s easy to get used to the relaxed writing style of these sites, on which only friends pay attention to their posts. A problem arises when this disregard for quality writing is transferred to one’s professional life. All careers will require some aspect of writing, even if only in the application phase. At some point, you will have to reach out to prospective employers to tell them about yourself. While the misuse of “their” may not matter on Facebook, it could be enough to deter someone from hiring you. The people who can craft a résumé displaying both their qualifications for a position and their ability to write a coherent sentence are the people who will get the jobs. Once you’ve earned the job that supposedly requires no writing whatsoever, you will probably have to send an email every once in awhile, and it would probably help if the messages you sent made sense.

So, whether or not your future career of choice mandates quality writing skills, you should not leave your knowledge of English grammar behind. While it may seem a pain to determine which form of a homophone to use, and you might not have ever learned how to use a semicolon, putting a few seconds of extra thought into your cover letter will pay off in the end. In this digitally driven world, written communication is more important than ever. Yeah, learning the rules of grammar sucks. Writing is hard. Still, you are now able to post your thoughts and opinions all across the web, and your words can reach every part of the world. You have the potential to become a reporter from the comfort of your own bed, and I bet brushing up on those grammar skills you learned in 10th grade English could impress a future employer enough to invite you in for an interview.