Twitter Writing Skills
Anyone who has texted while using the autocorrect function on a smartphone has undoubtedly sent a text with a mistake. Sometimes laughable and sometimes awkward, these autocorrect errors can often be partially blamed on the device - texting happens fast, and who has time to check everything? At least texts are relatively private.
However, on social media - and particularly Twitter - errors can pretty much be blamed solely on the user. After all, when a message is going to be seen by potentially thousands of followers, the sender really should take the time to make sure that those 140 characters are correct.
So which social media users write the most grammatically correct tweets? We examined millions of geotagged tweets from a period of approximately 15 months searching for about 40 misspelled and misused phrases to see which states made the fewest mistakes.
After the District of Columbia, the states whose writers had the fewest number of mistakes in tweets were Mississippi, Vermont, Hawaii, and Arkansas - interestingly, some of these are the hardest-to-spell state names.
Fortunately, thanks to software - or proofreading - misspellings can often be caught. However, misuse of words and phrases is just as rampant on social media. Misuse of the different "there," "they're," and "their" as well as "your" and "you're" is quite common, but unfortunately there isn't a way to determine the proper use in the context of the tweet on a mass scale. However, we did search for misused phrases that are never correct - in any context.
Sometimes what annoys people more than misspellings and typos are misunderstood phrases. Many figures of speech don't have obvious origins, making it easy for people to mix up what the words actually are (even when they know what the phrase means). A great example is "all intensive purposes," which should really be, "all intents and purposes." We searched for several phrases like this, and "could care less" (instead of "couldn't care less") and "mute point" (instead of "moot point") revealed interesting results.
Note: 0.00 on a state means that in our set of analyzed tweets, no one used the phrase in that state.
After exploring the geographical trends, we also examined gender-based differences. In our study, women spelled and correctly used words and phrases more often than men did. One reason could be the way women and men use their brains: While men typically use one side of their brain more than the other, women use both equally, which leads to better verbal skills.
With Twitter and other forms of social media, people are able to disseminate news and information quickly. However, just because social media is meant to be fast doesn't mean messages shouldn't be checked before sent. Inaccuracy has implications. Lack of professionalism aside, there is the real possibility of "occasionnal" "embarassment" when people don't "try and" spell and use words and phrases correctly, even if they think their readers or customers "could care less."