Imagine getting the following message online:
did u go2 teh orthudonist ytesredy i thot i swa u three but i dont no if it wuz u my teeth hurt afrer gtting nu bands on but ts ok shud we go 2 pizzaranch b4 teh moive2morro or bamboogardn or wut cant wate 2 c it but frist we got skool k by4now

Or perhaps this one?
OMG n00bcake!!!!!!! 3y3 izza hax0r n u r pwn3d!!!! @.@ kekeke pwnage 4u n lulzage4me w00t w00t!!!!!!

Or maybe this one?
HEY! HOW ARE YOU DOING????? I DIDN'T SEE YOU AT LUNCH TODAY; DID YOU GO HOME SICK OR SOMETHING?????? HOW DID YOU DO ON YOUR SCIENCE TEST????? I'M SO SURE I FAILED; I'M GOING TO CRY NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HAVE SO MUCH HOMEWORK, I CAN'T EVER GET IT DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUT I'M STILL CHECKING MY FACEBOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Could you read each of these messages? Did you understand each of these messages? Remember that the MAIN POINT of communicating online is just that--communicating. That is, the POINT is making your message as understandable as possible.



What's the Big Deal?

If the main purpose of communicating online is making your message understandable, there might be a problem with each of these messages, depending on the context in which it was sent.

The first message message might be hard to read because there are many misspelled words and no punctuation. While it might be quick to write a message this way, sometimes it's difficult for your reader to figure out just what you are saying.

The second makes use of what is sometimes called "leet-speak." In leet-speak, numbers, letters, and other symbols are used to make up words, some of which don't even exist in regular English. Sometimes they are weird spellings, or odd contractions of longer words, or completely made up words. Even the name "leet" comes from the word "elite", which means not everyone has access to it. Leet-speak was originally made up by hackers who were elite (to some degree, anyway) in the way they could use the Internet. They made up their own language/way of writing so that other people wouldn't understand what they were talking about, at least not easily.

The third message is hard to read because it is all in capital letters and the sender used too much punctuation. One rule of thumb for communicating online is that writing in all capitals is like SHOUTING at the person. Using too much punctuation only makes this worse. (Who really needs 23 exclamation points?)



Keeping the "Main Thing" the Main Thing

If we remember that the MAIN THING is that you communicate clearly so that the other person can understand your message, each of these messages might be okay, depending on the person reading it.

For instance, if your friend doesn't mind tons of spelling errors and zero punctuation, the first message might be just fine. However, it's probably not a good idea to use abbreviations, misspellings, and little punctuation if you are communicating with a parent, a grandparent, your teacher, a person you really respect, or anyone you would want to get a good impression of you. (Using good grammar and and your best writing skills are a way to show you really care that people can understand your message.)

Likewise, if your friend is a hacker, using leet-speak might be just fine. However, if your friend is not a hacker, the first message is probably hard for him/her to read! If the point is making the message meaningful, leet-speak might be the wrong way to communicate the message.

The third example is probably not ever appropriate. If you really are SO UPSET that you need to SHOUT YOUR MESSAGE, you might need to consider talking to the person face-to-face, rather than posting it online.

The "Main Thing" about communicating online--as in face-to-face communication--is making sure your message gets through to the person with whom you are communicating.

If they can't understand the message, what's the point?








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