HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL WHEN YOU READ A MESSAGE IN ALL CAPS? IT’S THE INTERNET EQUIVALENT OF YELLING AT SOMEONE!
I don’t know about you, but I hate opening my inbox and seeing emails with ALL CAPS. It feels like an assault on my system. Because text messages and emails come without the context of voice inflections and body language, it’s not always easy to tell what the person means.
Are they being sarcastic? Are they joking? Are they in earnest? Emojies do soften the blows sometimes. A smiley face lets you know that no sting is meant by the message. But it still goes that using all caps is the internet equivalent of getting in someone’s face.
Why am I writing about this today? In working for a new client, I’m getting messages from a number of people within the company. In person, my associate assures me that these people are kind, nice women. But in their messages and on their website, they USE ALL CAPS A LOT. And it bugs me. Am I being too sensitive? I don’t think so and here’s why…
I thrive on quiet and calm. And I’ve reached the age where I no longer suffer in silence but I speak up to let others know how I feel. This hasn’t always been the case.
Some of my relatives were excessively loud and overbearing in their “conversations”. In particular, I had one aunt and uncle who annually visited The Farm (my childhood home). As we stood in the kitchen, one would start a conversation about someone I’d never met, the other would speak at the same time, increasing the volume to be heard. With each sentence the decibels would increase. Out of politeness, I would try to track what they both were saying, ping ponging my head back and forth. My aunt’s “Mrs. Ford had her gall bladder removed” merged with my uncle’s un-funny jokes. I had tennis neck in no time at all.
For a number of years, I lived in a mobile home situated a couple of hundred feet from the farm house. And no exaggeration, I could hear them still speaking in my parent’s living room, even if I went home and closed all of the doors and windows. Did I say they were loud? I loved my relatives, but by the end of the visit I was exhausted.
Yes, I love peace and quiet. Of course, I know how to project my voice to reach someone in the back 40. But in face-to-face conversation, I choose not to raise my voice.
In today’s internet age, we no longer have to contend with an assault on our ears, unless we choose to raise the volume ourselves. We get to control, to a certain degree, what we bring into our lives. We can unsubscribe. We can mute. We can even shut our devices off…fancy that! Except when it comes from a client.
Perhaps it’s a hold over from when we were taught typing in high school, but I’m seeing more and more people over the age of 50 using all caps in their writing to make a point. As a copywriter trying to appease the client, I can let it go in subheadings, if I have to. But I’d like to suggest that there are better ways to make your point without being offensive and overbearing.
- You can bold the words you want to pop.
- You can change the color, but please be judicious with the color red.
- You can italicize the main point.
- You can put the main points into bullet points to draw attention to them.
- Edit until the meaning can’t be missed.
It’s easy to fire off an email or update a blog post and mean one thing, while your reader perceives something entirely different from the message.
I’m often guilty of writing in mental shorthand. I know what I mean, but you probably won’t. So I’m going to make a conscious effort to re-read and edit until each message is clearly written.
While I’m on my soap box, another pet peeve is the use of profanity.
Some call it edgy, snarky, trendy. Some build their entire online persona around it. They have the right to make that choice.
My point of view is that it’s lazy and abusive. It’s not professional. People who use off color or foul language plummet in my esteem, and I immediately remove them from my presence.
Words convey emotions. Do you feel respected when someone swears at you? Do you feel loved? Is it gentle? Is it kind? Is it uplifting? Is it necessary? I think not!
There are so many wonderful words in the English language that you can use to make your point. You don’t have to default to abusive speech to let someone know that you’re mad, upset, hurt, furious, incensed, livid, disappointed, disgruntled…
And don’t get me started on exclamation marks or excessive wordiness that says nothing!!!!!!
Communication is a delicate interchange of thoughts and feelings. And one of the greatest qualities a good writer can have is empathy. Not the putting yourself in someone’s shoes, but understanding how someone feels as they stand in their own shoes.
Your words have to be clearly understood, so that your readers can take them off the page and put them in their minds and hearts. If they don’t make a deeply positive, emotional connection, what’s the use of writing?
Thanks for letting me rant today. I’d love to hear if these kind of things matter to you. Please leave a comment below.