Wednesday, May 30, 2012
If You Can't Beat 'Em, Spell Like 'Em
In 2008, Barack Obama was elected the first African-American President. He also became the first President elect who had successfully used the Internet, social and viral media in his campaign. He even had an app.
As you can't help but know (since the 2012 election coverage started long before 2012 started and is on pretty much 24/7), Mitt Romney is hoping to unseat President Obama this November. He is attacking the President's attempts at healthcare reform and economic stimulus. He thinks Obama needs to "Stop apologizing for America." And, like any self-respecting candidate in this Web 3.0 world, he created an app for it:
A Better Amercia
A-M-E-R-C-I-A. With that rather un-patriotic error, Romney has generated quite a lot of online buzz ... and not exactly the buzz he intended.
The world being what it is, the mistake was instantaneously picked up, ridiculed and memed. Memes are clever (and, granted, sometimes less-than-clever) online parodies. In the case of Romney's ill-fated app, the memes include his misspelled call for betterment coupled with a Scrabble game, a child struggling in a spelling bee, Bart Simpson, refrigerator magnet letters that read "DUMBASS," and, of course, an Etch-a-Sketch.
Poor Mitt. Poor proofreaders who work for Mitt! I'm an advertising copywriter by trade and I can tell you that these things happen. In fact, as someone who makes a living with words, I can only thank my lucky stars that I wasn't the person who mistyped or approved that one.
Then again, if Romney's purpose is to be seen as young and hip and social media-savvy, this may have been the ultimate Freudian slip. If you are reaching out to the texters and the tweeters, don't you need to talk their talk? Type their type? Or rather, typo their typo?
To the online generation, accurate spelling is a grossly overrated virtue. They simply don't have time for anything that gets in the way of speeding thumbs on a smartphone keypad. When I read the Facebook posts of my daughter and her friends, I cringe. And it takes superhuman mom effort to resist correcting her text messages.
Amercia's a free country; there's no law against poor spelling. Why not go all the way then? Campaign posters should use acronyms (WTF! OMG!) and emoticons, drop letters, replace simple words with numeric digits (à la the Dictionary According to the Artist 4-merly Known as Prince), and avoid punctuation altogether unless it's to reinforce the candidate's point with a string of countless exclamation marks.
There are those who will criticize Romney for his new allegiance to Amercia. There are those who will think that those who criticize him are nit-picking. There are those who will think that those who criticize those who criticize are actually ignoring the real issues. But, let's all just admit that we love our country, no matter how we spell it.
Here's what I say: gd bls amercia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!