Every time we notice someone texting or emailing in lower case, some react like this is the most casual badass to ever grace these parts. They must be texting as they jump their flaming motorcycle over a pool of piranhas with a cigarette in their mouths and a wink to all the cheering ladies in the crowd.
“Who is that man?” a choir of singers in the background swoon over every lowercase letter that is supposed to be capitalized. “There he goes.”
At least that’s how they want us to react, but the other kind of smug reaction is just as ridiculous. “Sweet molasses! Those letters and words are all lowercase. This is a showdown with the Queen’s English, and I demand satisfaction!”
Maybe I’m exaggerating those two reactions a bit. Most people don’t really mind the use of lowercase and barely notice it. It was new and interesting when he did ee cummings. Not so much anymore. But one can’t help but notice the plethora of online comments, tweets, and texts from friends who are totally committed to lowercase in total defiance of social convention and self-correction.
autocaps is annoying
It is not laziness. Typing all lowercase doesn’t mean you’re a lazy bum, and perfectly capitalizing the right words doesn’t mean you’re a studious hustler.
It also does not imply that you are an ultra casual person, because it means that you did everything possible to disable the automatic capitalization on your phone. That at least required some sort of Google search. A truly casual person would just let auto-caps mess up their messages and not care.
But just to get the obvious out of the way: autocaps can be incredibly annoying. I get it. It often adds unnecessary time and effort when you’re just trying to send a quick message, and it’s inconsistent with what it uses in capital letters, sometimes making unimportant words look like statements. “Do you want to have pizza later with jen?” What?
So instead of going back and fixing each one, some people choose to throw the baby out with the bathwater and just turn it all off. However minor, there is some risk of collateral damage. It means that you are comfortable with proper nouns having to fend for themselves without capitalization.
A lowercase person’s name could imply that you have no respect for them, a lowercase city that is not important, and seeing a lowercase I could make a person who doesn’t know you well think you’re dumb. If it was all lowercase, I’d have a really hard time getting over that “i” thing.
Lowercase can be a way of life
It’s clear that for some lowercase devotees, this isn’t just about the affectation of looking ultra-casual. It’s almost a way of life, an attempt to flaunt what they see as unnecessary formalities, a rebellion against the cocky grammar police, and a way to more easily express oneself without a sense of pretense and superficial judgement.
At work, we constantly send formal emails and chat in perfect capital letters so as not to appear unprofessional, so texting with friends or commenting online in lowercase can be a break from that. It feels like it’s off the clock. Now, if you’re religious about the whole lowercase thing and use it at all costs, that’s fine, but don’t be surprised if no one responds to your resume in lowercase.
There’s still some pretense
The funny thing is that always writing in lowercase can be just as pretentious as an uppercase addict. By avoiding capitals at all costs (unless you’re the type to only use capitals when making an IMPORTANT point), you’re creating another kind of formality.
And I guarantee that if you’re one of those people who has quasi-political/cultural reasons for using lowercase, you’re probably the opposite of casual in person. You may even be the type that everyone has to walk on eggshells.
In most cases, though, it’s just an answer to how annoying autocaps can be and saves people time and effort when texting. When you have to constantly type for work, I fully understand not wanting to spend extra energy typing for free on a text or comment.
It’s best to remember that writing in lowercase doesn’t make you cool or interesting, any more than writing in perfect capitalization makes you respectable. What matters is the choice of words. For example, no amount of casual lowercase or perfect uppercase would have fixed this meandering article.