I had a most shocking experience recently. I’m fortunate to be a part of a lovely bloggers’ group, Blogs in Bloom. People share their blog posts, and social-media links, and everyone is invited to read, share, and comment.
Of course you let the people know that you’ve read, or liked, or shared their post, by commenting under their link. Something simple like Commented! or Read and liked! At first, anyway…
I was doing so happily, leaving simple little comments like that, no need for anything more complex. Until one day, I panicked when, after commenting something like Shared! 🙂, Facebook told me that my comment had been marked as spam.
I’d never been accused of such a thing in my life! It took me a moment to realise what had happened. As the theme for that day had been sharing, I’d been repeating the same reply. One of Facebook’s algorithms had decided that, as I was repeating the same comment, I was a spambot, or perhaps a rather sad human individual with nothing better to do.
Luckily, Facebook had the magnanimity to allow me to plead my case, and indicate that my comments were not in fact spam.
Since then, I’ve had to try to constantly alternate how I write my comments, and it’s been a fascinating experiment in saying the same thing in as many different possible ways.
Shared on Twitter!
Shared this on Twitter!
Have shared this!
Have tweeted this!
Have shared on Twitter!
As you can see, it’s not so hard at all. Most interesting though, is that I’ve never had to resort to I’ve tweeted this or even I have tweeted this. Obviously this would be too long and formal for a simple Facebook comment intended to share some simple information quickly. It struck me as amusing though, as it means I’ve never once actually used a grammatically-accurate sentence in this context, despite working in the English-teaching industry.
It really made me realise that, despite how much we assume grammatical accuracy is important, we don’t really need it so much in our everyday communication. Our amazing brains are so adept at picking up meaning from language, that just a fraction of a completely grammared statement is sufficient for us to understand its content. Let’s look at this case:
Everyone in the group knows the context, that we’re sharing each other’s posts, often via social media. Twitter is a handy way to share a post, and most of us have Twitter accounts. They also know that we reply to their comments to indicate that we’ve shared the post. Therfore as soon as they see someone’s replied to their comment, they can assume that they’ve shared it. If they then see that the reply says Tweeted!, they know someone tweeted the post. Just that one word is necessary.
Of course, we still need a minimum of grammar, and that’s why Tweeted works, but not all other forms of the verb. Tweeting would be a little confusing as it would suggest I was permanently in the process of sending the tweet. Will tweet would clearly suggest that I’m promising to tweet it in the future, but that’d be odd in the context (why wait?) To tweet, or tweet would be quite confusing, and not really indicate whether I’d tweeted it, or intended to. But tweeted works fine, as that immediately lets them know that at some point in the past I engaged in tweeting their post, and that that transaction was completed successfully.
It’s amazing how much information a single word can contain. That’s because grammar isn’t just about how words relate to each other, but also to our minds, and the world around us. That’s why sometimes just one word will do. Except for Facebook though, for which you’ll need your thesaurus!