it’s how the kids do it these days.

and it’s a brand of communication i swore i would never do.

and yet, i do.  i love the english language.  i love the nuances of the language, and i love the way words are put together.  words are powerful, and they are powerful when they are spoken, and they are powerful when they are written.  and since i do both, and do both frequently, i figured that i would never demote the english language to such frivolousness as writing without capital letters.

and then i found facebook.  and since i direct a rather large student ministry, and since most of my students live their lives on facebook, i go where the kids are.  and that’s where they are.  and this is how they communicate.

captions for photographs are written without capital letters.  status updates are written without capital letters.  favorite movies.  favorite songs.  interests.  all of these things are written without ever pressing the shift key on the keyboard. 

and that poor little shift key.  once so important.  once used to start a new thought, or a new sentence, and now it has been left behind, ostracized.  and it is lonely.  now, in this new found mode of communication, where words are never capitalized, the shift key may be used only when SOMEONE IS VERY ANGRY.  and then again, it could be overlooked for the simpler caps lock key. 

writing without capital letters, really, is a way to communicate an attitude.  using all lower caps indicates that what you are saying is not very serious, or that your current mood is one of normalcy.  and it is different than the structured world in which we live, where homework must be written in proper english, and where reports and presentations must be written in strictly professional ways.  it really is a sort of rebellion, and so we decide that with friends and family, and our facebook crowd, we’ll only communicate in the ways we believe we talk, and surely the words we say are never capitalized.  and surely, talk of sports and relationships and movies don’t need such heavy restrictions, such as the usage of capital letters — we can just save all of that for when it is absolutely necessary.

so the little shift key is overlooked. 

but really, how much effort do we expend to press the shift key, anyway? 

wait.  i just used the shift key there.  so it needs to be used when you place a question mark at the end of your sentence.  so, we have found another use.  and an important use.  (even though you need it for parentheses, and apostrophes, in my common experience, neither are used much, and pale in use to the all powerful question mark.)  the shift key’s primary purpose, in this cyber-communication world, then, is it’s need for questions.

and there a lot of questions in this lived-online world.  it’s the normal, back and forth conversation, that usually involves statements and questions.  and when you mostly talk through your keyboard, face-to-face contact becomes tough, and awkward, so we just stick to talking with words that omit all capital letters.

because life is lived on the screens of millions of computers.

we are now seeing the emergence of a new, common, vernacular language.  it is the underground language of the people.  it is the way to communicate to a great amount of people in this particular culture, so much so that if you enter this world, and use that little shift key, you’ll be seen as someone who doesn’t belong, or who doesn’t understand.  and whether you do understand or not is really irrelevant.  it’s that your appearance says otherwise.  and in an attention-deficit world, every edge you have to be relevant you take.  and if that means forsaking the beloved english language for teenage typing, then it must be done. 

because in an online world, appearance is less about clothes, and more about words. 

because words are powerful.  even how you type them.