Reading Between the Lines

Church of Rodel, Outer Hebrides / Photograph by Jim Richardson / National Geographic's Photo of the Day

I don’t know if the entire world already uses Microsoft Word, but I guess most people would relate to the red, green, or blue squiggly lines that it uses to indicate misspelled words, faulty grammar, or poor writing style. Although its spell checker doesn’t catch all the surface-level errors in a document, I love Word because of that functionality; it makes my proofreading easier. However, some people are really stubborn when they say that they don’t care if they have typographical or grammatical errors in their work — specifically in their blog posts. They usually tell me, “It’s my blog, so I’ll make all the errors I want in it.” Sadly, it’s the same reason why people should be proofreading and editing their blog entries. It’s their blog. Even if we do not consider the content of each blog post, the way we write says something about our personalities, especially to those who are willing to read between the squiggly lines.

Most people would say that a writer is either dumb or lazy when he or she has surface-level errors. It’s easy to assume that just because a writer can’t do it right, the writer doesn’t know squat about grammar, punctuation, or spelling. If a person would be generous enough to give the benefit of a doubt, the writer will just be lazy for not rereading through the work and checking for errors to fix.

However, there’s actually more to that. From my observations of people who do not edit and refuse to do so, I get a hint that they have problems with authority. While we think that authority only applies to parents, law enforcers, and other powerful figures, we should also think that a standard or norm — grammatical convention, to be exact — is also an authority figure that needs to be followed. If a writer refuses or swears not to edit, then that’s a direct admission that he or she has problems with authority. I’ve seen this in some people I know who actually break rules for no apparent reason and boast that they’re “cool” or “maverick” for doing those things.

Sometimes, I also get the hint that some people have low self-esteem and feel that they are doomed to live an unhappy life when I read their blog entries. Usually, I see it when they use the lowercase letter “i” instead of “I.” To psychologists, this is a big thing since that letter connotes the ego or the self, and if a writer does not have the confidence to write it in capital letters — again another convention or rule that needs to be followed — it’s easy to assume that the writer has low self esteem. Mixed with the actual negativity of the post entry’s content, it could be a strong indication that he is convinced that his life will never get any better.

The functions of punctuation marks might also reveal personality traits of the writer. For example, run-ons lack periods, which signify boundaries, so that person might not know when and how far to push the proverbial envelope. To a cliff? To pulling a trigger? I just don’t know. Also, commas organize word groups in a sentence to create meaning, and the lack of commas might mean that the person is disorganized and confused with his or her own thoughts, too. I would also like to suggest that missing ending quotation marks could mean that the writer doesn’t know where his own ideas end and where another individual’s ideas begin; in a sense, it’s like dependence to other people. I wish a psychologist would do a study on this, or if there’s a study about it already, I want to read it.

Sadly, there’s a more sinister implication for poor writing that is published as blog entries. The writer doesn’t just care. Care for what? Well, most blogs are about those people’s lives, so I’m predisposed to assume that these people aren’t really concerned with their lives.

In writing this post, I don’t mean to sound like a troll, bashing everyone who commits grammatical errors. I admit that I also commit the same mistakes as the next blogger. I understand that some errors are committed intentionally for a target audience, style, and sometimes, to drive a point. I would also say, “LOL, @ le me for liking le kewl 9gag pics,” should I need to write for that kind of audience. I’m definitely NOT saying that people who edit and have perfect blog posts are perfect either. Just look at little old me — a control freak and a perfectionist — who keeps on editing my blog posts. My only point is that I care for other writers. They may not have horrible personalities, but when others start interpreting and reading between the squiggly lines — finding personality flaws left and right — there’s really no telling of how bad a writer is perceived by his audience.


4 thoughts on “Reading Between the Lines

  1. Hoobert the Awesome

    Amen to this! I’m also a blogger. I’ll admit that my punctuation, spellings and specially my grammar aren’t perfect. But I see to it that I proofread it, at least, twice before I publish it. 🙂

  2. Chad the Velociraptor Post author

    Yeah! I really don’t mean to judge others, but that is my training. I studied psychology, and I can’t help but think of interpretations when I read people’s stuff. Thanks for dropping by, Hoobert!

    @Clownponders, thanks for liking my posts! 😀

  3. iamTalinggaw

    I didn’t know that a lowercase letter “i” suggests a person with low self-esteem, I thought it’s just a rule. And I agree with MS Word, it’s a big help, especially to someone like me. 😉

    1. Chad the Velociraptor Post author

      Hello iamTalinggaw! I’m not really sure that a lowercase letter “i” would suggest low self-esteem. That’s only my interpretation of it. I’m not sure if psychologists can confirm that. I’m actually researching about it. 😀


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