Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pay Attention

It seems that no one pays attention to "details" anymore. That's a shame.

In this age of instant communication and text messages, widespread carelessness appears to have taken hold. Text messages such as "sending this just to see how u r " have opened the dore to bad speling. Y bothr w/ speling whn the reedr nos what y meen? (You get the idea.)

The entire country stopped on September 11th to observe the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy and to display for the first time the memorial created on the grounds where the twin towers stood. It was somber tribute to those whose lives were lost and the families left behind. A few days later, the media reported that one of the names appeared on the memorial had been misspelled. Of all the fuss and preparation for the ceremony to open the impressive memorial, something as simple as getting the names spelled correctly seems simple and necessary. The family involved was shocked and disappointed at the error -- as they should be -- and those in charge said the matter would be corrected. If the purpose of the tribute and memorial was to make sure these individuals are honored, does it seem like too much to have the names spell correctly?

Accurate spelling seems to be slipping away as one more of those seemingly unimportant details that don't really matter. Shirley the reedr nos what you meen. But carelessness and inattention are rampant and turn up in the most surprising places. To find them, however, you must pay attention.

I was recently watching "Annie Hall," one of my all-time favorite movies. For decades, I have admired Woody Allen for his quirky humor and entertaining films. Not only are his films delightful, but Allen is known for his craftsmanship and unending attention to detail. As the credits ran at the end of the movie, I noticed that the name of fantastic actor Christopher Walken is actually spelled wrong (Wlaken)! I couldn't believe that such a great film -- an Academy Award-winning film -- had a blatant typo. Perhaps Woody Allen or a member of his crew "planted" the error to see if someone would notice. I doubt that is the case, but wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Amazing.

I've always been a fairly good speller, so perhaps I spot these mistakes more easily than most people. A local television commercial has a large graphic typo in one of its ads that runs at least several times a week. (Hopefully they will care enough to fix it eventually.) I was in a restaurant last week where daily specials were listed on a board near the door and included an "avacado" salad. Like I mentioned, the errors are everywhere and obvious. If you watch for them, you will see them.

I sincerely hope that while we are trying to pump up the economy, create jobs and control the national debt, we do not completely ignore the little niceties that we used to value. To me, correct spelling is a signal that the writer/speller/typist cares about the finished product and in completing the task has paid attention.

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