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When I am Copyeditor General ...: Facebook users will not fear basic sentences

Thursday

Facebook users will not fear basic sentences

One of my favorite things about Facebook is the status update, the editable sentence that gives a quick snapshot into each person's life at the moment they wrote it. The functionality is set up as $name + "is" + $message, with the mandatory verb forcing a particular sentence structure:

Carolyn is watching leaves fall.
Carolyn is currently catupon.
Carolyn is asking you to vote parmo.



I enjoy the challenge of fitting my spontaneous updates into a predetermined grammatical form. But apparently not everyone does. As reported on the allfacebook blog and covered in news outlets from Wired to Salon to the UK's Daily Telegraph site, Facebook is giving in to user pressure and removing the verb from status updates.

What's the big deal, you wonder? Doesn't this allow for greater creativity, enabling users to say how they really feel instead of being straitjacketed into the third-person singular of to be?

You'd think so. But given that the FB crowd already struggles with the simple "is" format--ignoring it altogether and writing things like "John is I hate school" and "Sarah is got a new job!!!" and "Lucy is can't get TiVo to work"--I don't hold out much hope that this new flexibility will improve their language use.

The discovery of a Facebook group called "I die a little bit inside when I see grammatically incorrect status updates" did assauge my fear that no-one else had noticed.

What bugs me most is that the Facebook group pushing for the change, "Campaign to lose the mandatory 'is' from status updates," has 64,000 members. A population equivalent to the City of Portland, Maine, thinks it's just too difficult to start a sentence with "(username) is" and would rather complain about it than figure out how to work with it.

Copyeditor General's ruling: CG is going to continue using the verb to be in status updates.

3 comments:

Laura Matthews said...

haha, you are such a snob.

always remember that I was contact lenses for a week.

L
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LimeyG said...

But that's my point--it's cool that you were contact lenses. What would you have written if you didn't have the predetermined format?

LimeyG said...

But that's my point--it's cool that you were contact lenses. What would you have written if you didn't have the predetermined format?

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