Are Smart Phones Creating Dumb People?

It’s time to start a revolution to bring courtesy back to the Internet.

I rarely get upset with the signature line of an email (you know, the default text at the bottom of the message like "sent from my iPhone"), but this one really burned me up: 

Sent from an iPhone. Expect mistakes.

The work acquaintance who sent me this email was basically saying, “Don’t blame me. Blame the tool.” He’s wrong. The phone is a technological miracle. He’s the tool.

This is not an isolated incident.  More and more, email signature lines like "expect typos", "sent from a tiny keyboard", and "typed on a virtual keyboard" have become expected and accepted.

I don’t accept it, and neither should you.  What is really being said in those signature lines is "The sender is too important to deal with typos, but the receiver is not."

But I am.

There are no excuses for sending un-proofed emails. Not the size of the keyboard or the screen. Not how busy life is in the 21st Century. You know what I do when I'm not in the mood to write and proof a letter on my phone? I DON'T WRITE AN EMAIL ON MY PHONE. I wait until I'm on my laptop. No email is so important that it has to be sent RIGHT NOW. Okay, that's not entirely true. If you're emailing for help during a bank robbery, I won’t ignore your message because you asked me to “caal the pollice.”

Here’s what I do if I have to communicate information to someone right away, and I don’t have the ability to proof an email on my iphone.  I  MAKE A PHONE CALL - on the device already in my hand.  Apple didn’t name the product the iToothbrush. It’s called an iPhone.  This is what most people are really avoiding: Having synchronous communication, where the other person might want something, or waste time talking about themselves.  As a society, we’re all certainly too busy for that.  If people are going to email instead of talking, they need to at least stop ignoring the red squiggly lines under misspelled words like they are color blind.

I’m not trying to be a Chicago Manual of Style stickler. I don't care whether someone puts the period inside the quotes or outside the quotes. I'm not talking about the occasional lower case I.  I'm talking about the kind of typos, lack of grammar and mis-autocorrects that make it hard to understand the intended meaning of an email. 

Let’s draw a signature line in the sand.  Let’s raise email standards back up to a loftier, 2nd grade reading standard. If not, digital communication will continue devolving into tweet style, txt msg emails 4U2 dcphr, FYI.  What’s next, just emailing pictures instead of words?

It’s time to start a revolution to bring courtesy back to the Internet.  Let's start respecting the reader.

Maybe the technology can help us fight back.  I want a new kind of spam filter. One that will start kicking back emails filled with unreadable messages.  So if some hipster with a Droid fires off a confusing morass of auto-correct nonsense, I don't even see it.  He just gets the email kicked back saying:

Postmaster has read the email and found it unintelligible.  The recipient should not have to crack the code of your intended meaning, so as a courtesy to both sender and receiver, the email was not delivered. Please spell check and resend.

Now the problem is back in his inbox.

Hey, I get it. I have big thumbs, bad eyes, and (for a college graduate) a shocking dependence on spell check. On my iPhone, I'm always typing my first name as arich, because I accidentally hit the a key instead of the shift key. Or I hit the n key instead of the space bar resulting in morenmistakes.   If it were easy, everyone would proof before sending. Let’s stop settling for easy.

So to start, I put my money where my mouth is. I wrote this post on my iPhone. Did it take longer than if I had used my Mac Book Air? Absolutely. Not so much in the typing, but in the editing. I spent the extra time because you, the reader, are worth it. 

Is it just me? Am I becoming cranky-pants on a virtual keyboard, or does what I say resonate with you?  Let me know in the comment section.  I’m excited to read both the pros and the cons, as long as I can understand what you wrote.


This post was written on my iPhone. Expect respect.