We have good reasons for being “wrong”
Are you a two spacer in a one space LinkedIn world? I only recently heard the expression about being a two spacer. You may well be one of us if you’re reading this. It means that you put two spaces between typed sentences. Is that wrong you ask? Is it worse that you don’t even know that it’s wrong or that you’re a one spacer and you’re making judgments about us poor two spacers?
Years ago (aka “once upon a time”) there were manual typewriters. They had what was called monospaced typesetting which means every letter on the page had the same amount of space whether they needed it or not – e.g. the letter “I” was given the same amount of space as an “m”. Today everything pretty much uses proportionally spaced fonts. For more about this absolutely fascinating (?!) topic, see http://www.cultofpedagogy.com/two-spaces-after-period/ by Jennifer Gonzalez. Actually, she does make the topic interesting. Because of this whole spacing thing, it was required to enter two spaces to make it easier to see where a new sentence began.
So why don’t we just stop you may be asking. For me, it’s all about muscle memory. I learned to touch-type on a manual typewriter and got pretty fast. Practice and testing involved not even looking at our keyboards. I don’t actually know visually where the letters on a keyboard are to this day without a whole lot of thought. My muscle memory remembers where the keys are and also enters those darn two spaces every darn time so I either have to slow way down to try to remember or forget about it or go back and fix things afterward. Hey – don’t knock it – I’m still a fast typist if I don’t have to worry about the issue of one space and I put myself through college by working as a much in demand temp legal secretary in London who would take jobs using both manual and the new electric typewriters.
Making mistakes on LinkedIn is a big deal to us two-spacers
Way back in time we used carbon paper to make copies of our typed pages. Each pristine white page had an inky carbon page in between and we might be able to make 2 or 3 copies of our original. Back in the ice age, we didn’t have copy machines and the only way to keep a copy of something we mailed out (yes, snail mail, dear young ones!) was to make a copy in this way. If we wanted to make a copy to keep in our file and a copy for the boss or some other person in the company, the only way was to use this archaic method. It was possible but VERY difficult to correct, involving white paper correction fluid (don’t ask!) In my work as a legal secretary, we could not have any corrections on the copies and I don’t even want to tell you how much paper I wasted starting all over again until it was perfect.
Have you seen bcc and cc on your email program? Do you know what that actually means? Cc actually means “carbon copy” and bcc means “blind carbon copy” from the days when it really was carbon paper. Learning a bit more about when to use cc and bcc may be a topic for another day!
So my point here is – yes, I know it took me a long time to get to it! – is that us two-spacers don’t like to make mistakes, especially not publicly. We like to get it right the first time but if we don’t, we’ll work to make it perfect before we share it or send it out. So, if you work with a two spacer and wonder why they’re not comfortable in sharing drafts or making mistakes publicly, blame our two space mentality and be kind (see the next heading.) And yes, you’ll see errors in this blog post because I have overcome my two space hang-ups in order to share with you. Valuing the people who bring different skills to the workplace is great for diversity and diversity is great for company success (aka the bottom line.)
Two spacers may not deal well with criticism
Teachers and parents were full of homilies like “Do it right the first time” or “Measure twice, cut once” and now you want us to take risks, put ourselves out there, take a chance on that whole open dialogue thing where people will feel free to criticize and comment? We can get used to it but try to be a little understanding about how hard this is for us. And maybe valuing the quality of what we bring to the conference table wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Social media is not a comfortable place for most two-spacers
Social media is all about putting things out there for all to see before you even think it through, let alone check it for accuracy, edit it and make it perfect. It’s about promoting and talking about yourself publicly. LinkedIn is a better social media channel for us than other forms of social media because there is something of an expectation to be more professional than other types of social media (please don’t look at my Facebook posts that may have been written after a glass or two of wine – unless it’s you that’s had the glass or two of wine!) Nonetheless, it’s still about bragging, no matter how modestly – and it was ingrained in us that nicely brought up young people didn’t boast. We’re getting better at promoting our experience and expertise. If a two-spacer indicates that they have some experience in a particular area, they probably could run circles around most non-two-spacers who profess to be brilliant at something.
Get to know us two-spacers better. We’re kind of amazing (blush, blush) and we have so much to offer. We have great experience and we can also learn new things. If you’re a two-spacer who needs help strutting your stuff on LinkedIn and using it to connect with people professionally, contact me to see how we can work together to make sure you’re looking good on LinkedIn and using it well.