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Article

down with capitalism

over the past few years, i’ve witnessed friends, family and now even myself fall victim to a sickening trend.  what started (i can only assume) as a simple grammatical mistake, has since taken over the entire internet. but maybe, this disturbing phenomenon is actually for the best.

my phone dings.

‘hey’
‘what’s up’

over the past few years, i’ve witnessed friends, family and now even myself fall victim to a sickening trend. 

what started (i can only assume) as a simple grammatical mistake, has since taken over the entire internet. but maybe, this disturbing phenomenon is actually for the best.

i was always taught that capital letters are the standard. right from my first day of school, my teachers drilled into me that capital letters go at the start of every sentence. i truly believed my sentence would be incomprehensible if it didn’t begin with a capital letter. and i’m not the only one. capital letters became ingrained in all our heads. if i ever dared to leave one out, my year three teacher would say to me:

“velentina, if you don’t start putting capital letters in the places they are meant to go, then you’ll never get your pen licence.”

the horror. the shock. me? denied the opportunity to write in pen? all i had ever wanted in life was to write with one of those four-colours-in-one clicky pens. i mean, did i have any purpose whatsoever for using the green pen? no. but i wanted it so bad. so i gave in to the demands of my teacher and started to integrate capital letters into my work.

with my four-colour pen in one hand and my pen licence in the other, i continued through the education system. as i moved through the years and my vocabulary grew, so too did my passion for capital letters. i fully embraced their ways. i had them at the start of sentences, as first letters of proper nouns and sometimes i’d just throw a few completely capitalised words in there for emphasis.

but then something changed. something shifted (and it wasn’t because someone was holding down the shift key).

it started with my younger brother. over a couple of months, I noticed that his ever-engaging replies had transformed from

‘Nice’ ‘Okay’ ‘Fine’

to a more

‘nice’ ‘ok’ ‘fine’

he’s a great conversationalist if you can’t tell.

it’s a subtle change. blink and you’d missed it. perhaps his keyboard was broken? or maybe i just needed glasses? i called him out on it. the look on his face. it was as if i was his 70-year-old grandmother asking him to help set up one of those instant-gram accounts.

“omg no one uses capital letters anymore, only old people.”

i was insulted. surely, i, a cool, hip person, was not that out of touch with the youth. i was also a bit bamboozled. what did these kids have against capital letters? what did capital letters ever do to deserve such rejection? they might not be perfect but surely, they’re better than the alternative.

eventually, i saw the light. i dug deep into my phone’s settings, past phone storage, through display and brightness, and straight into the keyboard section. it is here where i made one of the biggest decisions of my life. i turned off auto-capitalisation.

in the weeks following, i became an anti-capitalist advocate. at parties, i’d sit in the corner of the room trying to recruit and open the minds of other unwitting partygoers. i would try to convince them that despite what they had been taught, they didn’t need capital letters.

did they?

but let’s stop and think for a second. what if this dropping of capital letters is just an example of how lazy our generation has become? as i write this essay, i hear the ghosts of english teachers past yelling at me, reminding me that without capital letters, we open ourselves up to miscommunication. for example, if i sent a message to my friend saying,

“for my birthday i really want to see turkey,”

how are they expected to know whether i want to see turkey the country or the animal? a simple solution is of course to use capital letters.

and maybe some of you are inclined to think, “well sure, dropping capital letters sounds cool in theory, but in reality, the grammatical system we have in place now works. why fix it if it ain’t broke?”

folks, i’m here to tell you why this is simply not the case.

capital letters are nothing but a constant reminder of the elitist and snooty foundation that our language was created on. the idea that some letter cases are just better than others. take the capital letter ‘R’ for instance. it literally looks like they have a hand on their hip, bitterly looking down at the puny, undernourished small ‘r’. every time i look down at my laptop or walk past the computers in the baillieu library, i notice it’s the capital letters that are staring back at me from the keyboard. it’s like the lower case have been silenced or worse, erased completely.

there’s a sense of authority that capital letters embody. the idea that they have to go first and leave all the lower case letters to fend for themselves. (talk about a superiority complex.) but where would these capital letters be if not for the tireless and overworked efforts of the lower case? capitals are meaningless without the lower-case letters succeeding them. the real power of a text lies within the ability of the lower-case letters to engage, create and share the ideas with the reader. they carry the entire sentence.

and don’t even get me started on drop caps. you know what i’m talking about, those mediaeval-looking letters that take up the entire page. you see them all the time in old texts and art galleries. capital letter advocates claim that these giant letters are there to “grab the reader’s attention” or “spice up the page”. they trick you into thinking that by having this obnoxious capital letter smack-bang in the middle of your page, somehow all the lower-case letters get read more. but that’s just not what happens. there’s no trickle-down effect. the big letters just keep getting bigger. they hog all the attention. no one cares about the lower case.

so maybe it’s time that we all abandon capital letters. let’s embrace the lower case. i urge each and every one of you to go into your phones and search your settings. it’s time we turn off auto-capitalisation and turn on our open minds! digital citizens of the world, unite!

wait this is what people mean when they say, “down with capitalism!” right? right?!

 

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Three 2021

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