If This Is Boring, I Blame Grammarly

by | Jan 30, 2024 | tech & ai | 0 comments

I’m losing my voice. Actually, we all are.

No, not your spoken voice, although some would argue that’s enduring its own set of issues. I’m referring to written voice. The one you hear in your head as you read a news article, short story, or terrible take on how the Cowboys will definitely be the best team in the league next year. Trust me, bruh.

I don’t believe this is because everyone misplaced their own writing styles, but rather a casualty of convenience and necessity. And it’s making everything bland and boring.

Most text editors and browsers now include spellcheckers, but many people opt into more powerful writing tools like Grammarly or Hemingway, which are double-edged swords. They’re brilliant for catching errors and making text more accessible, but in doing so, dilute a writer’s unique voice. Those tools are like auto-tune for writing; everything’s the right pitch, but where’s the character?

In a digital realm, that kind of generic, repetitive style isn’t just normal, it’s encouraged for SEO purposes. Your goal as a digital marketer is to align your content with how users search for your topic areas. We’re just herding everyone into content pastures. The end result: you find what you’re looking for, but what you find isn’t that compelling or unique.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the name of “work smarter, not harder,” many publishers now utilize AI to either help assist or altogether write their content. Sports Illustrated (may it rest in peace) got caught creating fake writers to then publish their AI-written articles. I knew something was fishy about that guy, Max Powerstats.

With AI-based content, you can just sense this looming shadow of uniformity and predictability. It’s like every piece of content is coming off an assembly line, all polished and perfect but lacking the fingerprints of human touch. You certainly won’t achieve anything that’s in the same stratosphere as, say, Mark Twain or Hunter S. Thompson.

Okay, so am I saying to completely rid yourself of all these modern conveniences? No, of course not. Leveraging each of these at the right time can help ensure your written voice is polished and precise. When used as part of your creative toolbox, you’re less focused on individual grammar issues and more on the main subject you’re exploring. That’s a good thing. But – you need to be aware these same tools can steamroll the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make your personal style distinctive.

I don’t have a solution for how this mix should exist, but I do have my own recommendations.

Firstly, just start writing without any tools. It doesn’t have to be about anything important, maybe the worst restaurant you’ve ever eaten, and why it’s Macaroni Grill. Once you’re done, read everything you just wrote out loud. Does it sound like you? If not, figure out what’s missing.

Secondly, when you do use tools like Grammarly, don’t always accept the recommendations and move on. Decide if those recommendations damage your unique writing flair. Here’s a secret: sometimes it’s okay to use bad grammar or spell words incorrectly to make a point. 4reelz.

And thirdly, GPT and Bard are just tools at your disposal, but they aren’t you. Anyone can put in a prompt, “Why is the sky blue?” but only you can write personally about why birds aren’t real. And why their faces are dumb.

I plan on following my three recommendations more often, and I hope you do too. Then when we all regain our unique voices, hopefully the world will be a more colorful place. Or something.

Other stuff worth looking at….