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Labeling Neopian "il-Literacy"

by xwinglite


On the Neoboards, we all know the drill: have a small tiny font nobody can read, accompanied by huge block letters screaming your “neoname” and a snazzy default or a hard-to-get avatar. This is what we consider “being literate”; making it hard for people to read what we write, overusing certain smileys while carefully avoiding others, looking at the thesaurus every 3 seconds, calling anybody you hate “noob” while failing to grasp the meaning of the word, and pretending to “eat” an imaginary object. Oh and of course, be sure to use perfect grammar and punctuation because if you just forget a period at the end of your sentence, the grammar police will be after you. We call this “Neopian Literacy”.

{Is that really what being Literate is all about...?}

The Answer is simple: no. Being literate is simply being able to read and write. Any person is literate if they can communicate through the internet in a specific real-life language with means of reading what is posted on their computer screen and responding correctly. But the manner that they choose to respond with, whether they use simplified terms noted as “chatspeak” or proper grammar, should have no effect on how literate or illiterate they are as a person. Players online have no authority to call someone illiterate for using chatspeak because they honestly have no idea who that person is in real life.

{Of course a person could still be illiterate on Neopets, but from my experiences, players often wrongfully target other players. How?}

Forgetting a comma or spelling a word wrong have to all be immediately followed up with an anti-typo post to maintain your image; otherwise you’ll be nothing more than an illiterate child who does not deserved to be talked to. Some players don’t even give you a chance to show them your personality online if your font is not impossible to read; instead they immediately insult you and tell you to scram. You retaliate and the next thing you know, a crowd of players with tiny font gang up on you, accusing you of being illiterate and annoying. Amazing. You post a simple “Hi. =D” and within 10 seconds, everyone decides they hate you. Your anger makes you appear even worse, and you leave the board in a fury.

{You are lying! People do not do that on Neopets.}

Really? Well maybe not all the time, but most of the time, it still happens. In my six years on Neopets, I have seen countless cases. See all the guilds with “semi-literate” and “literate” listed as a condition? They are promoting the idea of “Neopian Literacy”. Supposedly, everyone who is able to create a guildless board and read the guild advertisement is literate. There is no “semi-literate”. In response to a guild’s “literate requirement”, an average person would make sure they can read what is posted and simply be able to respond; however, a Neopian would think, ‘Well, my font is tiny and black, my avatar is cute... yes, I believe I’m literate. Just got to remember that punctuation and my online thesaurus and spell check.’ Well, maybe the thesaurus and spell check may be a tad extreme; they are still a common necessity to be “Neopian Literacy”.

Be a better citizen. Recognize that people choose to use chatspeak and big fonts and accept it. You can use small fonts and proper grammar on a website; that is strictly your choice. But do not conclude that only people who type the same way as you do and use the small, unreadable font are the only ones who are “literate”. Neopets is a website where the players have fun, not another English Class.

{Tips to Reforming Your Views}

I do not wish to force anyone to be influenced by what I am saying, but I am hoping you all at least see my point. Here are a few tips I have generated out of my small brain in an effort to make my article longer to be submitted to the Times and... hopefully, for the players of Neopia’s benefit. In doing these things, you yourself will begin to realize “chatspeak” and “illiteracy” are two different things.

*Next time you spot a person using “chatspeak”, instead of ignoring them, talk with them. See if you can find that person shielded by the “chatspeak”.

*Refrain from labeling people automatically based on their font. Yes, I understand that it’s the internet, their font is their appearance, but ever heard of “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? This same concept applies in real life, and is more commonly recognized: Give that one ugly girl or guy at school a chance; find out who they are on the inside.

*Stop using “literate” when it applies to using chatspeak or not. Instead, use terms like “no chatspeak”. When you use “literate”, you are just simply implying that the person can read or write; it is simply misleading.

*When you spot a person harassing someone else because of their font or chatspeak, speak up. Seriously, how immature is it to dislike someone based on their... internet font and chatspeak? Chatspeak is honestly an internet language; people use it to save time, not necessarily because they cannot write.

*Don’t make any more boards hating the “noobs who use chatspeak”. Come on, if you can’t stand it, then isolate yourself from it. Don’t go on any boards where you find chatspeak and you will not be bothered by it. If you want a chatspeak-free board, nicely proclaim in the first post of your thread that you wish there be no usage of chatspeak. This way, if there is chatspeak on your board, you have a reason to retaliate. (Although, try not to make a huge scene. ^-^;) If you just make a simple, public board without specifying your preference, people are allowed to post there using proper grammar or chatspeak. And remember, use the term “no chatspeak”, not “literate”.

The idea of “Neopian Literacy” is silly. Its just a flattering image, but does not determine a person’s academic ability. This means that a beautiful font with tiny black messages is not all that defines being “literate”. Really, though, those who choose to use chatspeak are “literate” as well. Chatspeak is just a simpler way to chat but does not make a person undereducated.

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