To appeal to voters, especially media-savvy and young voters, many politicians are now using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes, however, their ignorance of writing conventions on these sites just ends up making them seem like they’re they’re trying too hard. For example, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley recently got criticized for his awkward abbreviations on Twitter. This article on Politico collects his 12 “best” tweets–that is, his 12 most awkward Tweets. Here are two examples:
1. “Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law” (April 7).
2. “P” (April 7).
Sen. Grassley’s unintentionally funny tweets attracted the attention of political satirist Stephen Colbert, who launched the hashtag #IgotthetweetslikeGrassley and said on his show: “This isn’t just tweeting! It’s avant garde stream of consciousness poetry!” Inspired, Colbert then tweeted: “i m so xitEd 2 twt l1ke mY h3ro gr asslee u ess A!!! you ez Ey!!
This conversation about 78 year old Senator Grassley’s tweets connects to the conversation we had about Naomi Baron’s work on txting. In class, you all asserted that you didn’t abbreviate very much when texting or tweeting, and sometimes found it obnoxious when others did. As the Stanford Study on Writing indicated, your generation is savvy about audience and kairos–knowing who you’re writing to and what kind of language is appropriate for that situation. What’s funny about Grassley’s tweets isn’t just his strange abbreviations, but the fact that he reads his kairos wrong: for example, he criticizes the President by saying the “Am ppl r not stupid” [the American people are not stupid]. While it’s fine if he criticizes the President, it seems inappropriate for him to do it in such a txtspeak kind of way.