Whenever we notice someone texting or emailing in all lowercase letters, some react as if this is the most casual badass to ever grace these parts. They must be texting while jumping their flaming motorcycle over a pool of piranhas with a cigarette in their mouth and a wink for all the cheering ladies in the crowd.
“Who’s that man?” a chorus of background singers swoon with every lowercase letter that’s supposed to be capitalized. “There he goes.”
At least that’s how they want us to react, but the other stuck-up kind of reaction is equally ridiculous. “Sweet molasses! Those letters and words are all lowercase. This is an affront to the Queen’s English, and I demand satisfaction!”
Perhaps I’m exaggerating both those reactions just a little. Most people don’t actually care about the use of lowercase and barely notice. It was new and interesting when ee cummings did it. Not so much anymore. But one can’t help but notice the plethora of online comments, Tweets, and texts from friends that are totally committed to lowercase in utter defiance of societal conventions and autocorrect.
Autocaps Is Annoying
It’s not laziness. Writing in all lowercase doesn’t mean that you’re a shiftless bum, and perfectly capitalizing the proper words doesn’t mean you’re a studious go-getter.
It also doesn’t imply you’re an ultra-casual person, because it meant you went out of your way to disable autocaps on your phone. That at least required some sort of Google search. A truly casual person would just let autocaps mangle your messages and not care.
But just to get the obvious out of the way: autocaps can be unbelievably annoying. I get it. It often adds unnecessary time and effort when you’re just trying to send a quick message, and is inconsistent with what it capitalizes, sometimes making unimportant words look like declarations. “Do you Want to get pizza Later with jen?” What?
So instead of going back and fixing each one, some people opt to throw the baby out with the bath water and just turn it all off. Minor as it is, there is some risk of collateral damage. It means you’re comfortable with proper nouns having to fend for themselves without capitals.
A name of a person in lowercase could imply you don’t have respect for them, a lowercase city that it’s unimportant, and seeing an I in lowercase might cause a person who doesn’t know you well to think you’re dumb. If I went all lowercase, I’d have the hardest time getting past that “i” thing.
Lowercase May Be a Way of Life
It becomes clear that for some lowercase devotees, this isn’t just about the affectation of appearing ultra-casual. It’s almost a way of life, an attempt to flaunt what they consider unnecessary formalities, a rebellion against stuck-up grammar police, and a way to more easily express yourself without a sense of pretense and superficial judgment.
At work, we’re constantly sending formal emails and chatting with perfect capitalization so we don’t otherwise look unprofessional, so texting with friends or commenting online in all lowercase can be a break from that. It feels like you’re off the clock. Now, if you’re religious about the whole lowercase thing and use it at all costs, that’s fine, just don’t be surprised if no one’s responding to your lowercase resume.
There’s Still Some Pretense
What’s amusing is that always writing in lowercase can be as full of pretense as a capitalization junky. By shunning capitals at all costs (unless you’re the type who only uses capitals when making an IMPORTANT point), you’re sort of creating another kind of formality.
And I guarantee that if you’re one of those people who has quasi-political/cultural reasons for going all lowercase, you’re probably the opposite of casual in person. You may even be the type everyone has to walk on eggshells around.
In most cases, however, it’s just a response to how annoying autocaps can be and saves people time and effort when texting. When you have to type constantly for work, I totally understand not wanting to expel extra energy when typing for free in a text or comment.
It’s best to remember that writing in all lowercase doesn’t make you a cool or interesting person, any more than writing with perfect capitalization makes you respectable. What matters is the choice of words. For instance, no amount of casual lowercase or perfect capitalization would have fixed this meandering article.