Internet Angels and Devils

So how’s biz? Is your 2012 unrolling like a silk carpet?

I’m pleased to say that I am keeping gainfully busy, and loving it. A large portion of my assignments are concerned with crafting content, and it’s creative, satisfying, and challenging work.

Much of my momentum originated in the wealth of instruction if not sheer wisdom imparted via the internet. So many teachers, leaders, pundits, and practitioners share with awesome generosity online, and I have heeded their advice attentively for nearly five years. Most of what I do for my clients is built on the shoulders of these internet giants.

All that being said, sometimes the web is abysmally regressive.

Two recent examples:

True story. I came upon a new multi-VA website, one of those that offers to connect VAs with business leads. It was a neat and friendly site, but I was immediately turned off when the several homepage paragraphs of text all referred to the plural of VA as VA’s. If you don’t know why that’s offensive to me, please ask in the comments. Anyway, I used the website’s contact page to notify the owner that I would appreciate it very much if they would correct the spelling to the proper VAs. “Short story long,” as they say around here, what proceeded from there was a string of increasingly ugly emails, with the site owner feeling offended and requiring proof from me that my “opinion” was correct. The site owner even produced an online source that actually did suggest their spelling was correct. I don’t want to bore you with all the technicalities, but our disagreement was total. We finally parted enemies.

Yuk.

Okay, another thing happened recently that put me over the edge as far as writing this post is concerned. I bought a course, a series of videos with supplementary files and heaping bonuses as is the latest custom, for a few hundred buckeroos. Not a huge sum, but not insignificant considering my budget. And what does the given marketing guru recommend? Here it is: Create the text for your web and landing pages by lifting snippets from the reviews for Amazon books.

Yeah, you heard me. That was the big revelation, the biggest golden nugget from this cyber manipulator. All the rest of the course material was secondhand, at least for me.

Double yuk.

Both these instances alarm me because they abuse language, writing, and communications. The cultural convention of language, the standard of commonality that binds us as a society, has become something that is a matter of individual “opinion.” And composing that language is robotically abandoned when you patchwork stolen phrases to build posts. Such a system is copy/paste, not composition. Original thought has nothing to do with it; everything is derivative. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to read such drivel.

Can the dominion of the internet mean the demise of language? Do we really think it’s okay to schlep it when it comes to written communications? Do you think that it doesn’t matter how you write or how effective your copywriting is? Do you think spelling and grammar are unimportant? Then these two stories may seem nonsensical to you.

But if you know the English language and attend closely to what is being communicated, you will agree with me: NO, the plural of VA does not include an apostrophe; and NO, patching phrases from any other website to create copy is not acceptable marketing of any sort.

I love the internet. It feeds and sustains me. But I must also recognize the pure BS it accommodates as readily as it spreads good ideas. How you curate the data you encounter on the ‘net makes all the difference.

I need to be more circumspect about sharing grammatical advice; and more meticulous in selecting online courses. Certainly, these are useful lessons for me and any small business leader.

Look out, there are wolves out there.