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You're Being Judged. You Just Don't Know It

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UNHAPPY PEOPLE STANDING WITH ARMS CROSSED
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Dear 20-something,
You're being judged. You just don't know it. You have somehow managed to graduate from high school, and in some cases college and university, without knowing how to use to, too and two. You mix up were, where and wear as well as there, their and they're. Notice how I said you're being judged? Not your being judged? You're is the abbreviated form of you are. The apostrophe takes the place of the "a".

Misuse of words like these becomes cringe worthy to those who know the difference. And very few will actually tell you once you've left school, what you are doing wrong.

But why should you care? Language evolves. There's good reason we don't walk around talking like a Shakespeare play. Over time, culture and media play a role, as do those who collectively use the language to help form its evolution. I get that.

The grammar police still notice.

But why should you care? Text messaging and social media often favours shorter sentences and abbreviations. While it's potentially excusable to then use "to" instead of "too" when inferring the meaning "also" in a tweet to budget characters to 140 letters, the grammar police still notice. The language of text and social media is often informal and conversational. It shows emotion. It's why people engage. I get that.

But why should you care? Because despite your diploma or degree, there are still people out there who will prejudge you based on your written word on a variety of platforms. You may have a BA or a BSC, but if you misuse language they will judge your intelligence. Trust me on that, along with recruiters, employers, and dare I say future spouses.

But why should you care? Because a generation ago you could get by without having your writing scrutinized in public unless you were a journalist. If you had to write a letter in a business context, there was often an executive assistant who would do it for you. You weren't called upon to respond in a timely fashion by written correspondence email, where nobody can save you unless you're truly at the top of the heap and have someone responding for you.

A generation ago you could get by without having your writing scrutinized in public unless you were a journalist.

You didn't have the potential for people to comb your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts in a public forum. In this regard, I suppose Snapchat is your friend. Your written word shared publicly or privately in electronic form, is now an extension of you and your personal brand.

Of course it may all become a moot point once there are enough people in the work force making the decisions who don't care about this stuff. But that's unlikely to happen for at least another 10 years, once the last of the baby-boomers release their death grip on upper management. Even then, there will still be people who care. Trust me on that.

This is not necessarily an inter-generational rant. There are many from older generations who also misuse language. They've been judged their entire lives and are unaware. That's just sad. But it seems to me the current generation of 20-somethings is particularly acute with their infractions in this area.

If you misuse language they will judge your intelligence.

Call me jaded. Maybe I've read too many university papers. But I've seen Facebook updates and comments as well as blog posts published on college websites with these errors. It makes me cringe on behalf of the person who wrote it, and how I know others will pass judgment.

Is it fair? No. Being judged is harsh. Especially when you don't know it's happening, and in particular when that judgment inadvertently hurts you.

So if you have somehow managed to squeak into adulthood with good written grammar, give yourself a pat on the back. And maybe go back and hug your high school, college or university English teacher. Thank your parents or tutor. They did you a huge favour insisting on proper usage and submitting re-writes.

You're being judged. You just don't know it.
- Your future

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