We’re a generation of OMG-ers, LOL-ers, and WTF-ers, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that our spelling isn’t exactly en pointe either.
So it was a very cruel joke that Blend, the San Francisco-based group texting app, played on its unsuspecting users.
For 72 hours the app switched off its spell checker as part of an experiment to uncover which words people consistently spelt wrong. And judging by the data from 200,000 random users, who were on average between 16 and 24, they ‘defiantly’ felt its absence.
According to Business Insider, the most frequently misspelled words were ‘weird’ and ‘Budweiser’ which missed the ‘i’ before ‘e’ rule of thumb, and ‘definitely’, mistaken written as ‘defiantly’ on numerous occasions.
Which raises a whole slew of questions. Ones like, why are we saying Budweiser so much? Is it 2000 again? Whasssssssup?
But of course, also more serious ones. The problem is tied up in how dependent we’ve become on spellcheckers and auto-corrects to right the slap-dash wrongs in our text messages. Our technology-led culture facilitates our lazy grammar and sloppy spelling. If I’m texting while I walk I’ll often mash something with my fingers that is reasonably close to the letters of the words I want to say and trust that the clever cogs in my keypad will do the rest.
Equally, when we don’t know how to spell a name or a place, we’ll type it into Google phonetically and somehow – no matter what distortion of letters you enter – it usually manages to return the result you were hoping for.
Do you try to remember how it was spelt for next time? Possibly. But what incentive do you have when you know that the clever algorithm will figure it out for you time and time again? I rarely even type a full password in before my laptop guesses what I might be trying to articulate. Do we really have bad memories and spelling, or are we just never given a chance to retain the information in the first place?
I don’t think millennials are stupid or bad at spelling. I just think that we are the poster girls and boys of an era characterised by technology that doesn’t require us to remember anything.
Which is great, in many ways. Would we hold our own in a spelling bee today? Quite possibly not. But it’s not just us millennials who are at fault. My parents have always had to use a dictionary to complete their crosswords and I wouldn’t go and hide it without telling them. So really, this is all Belnd’s fault.