One of the biggest cultural difference (yes, I attribute this to culture, read on) I face is the use of Caps Lock. Caps Lock is the scarcely used button on the left side of the keyboard of most Americans. When accidentally pressed, it automatically means yelling. In South Africa, that aspect of computer culture was never taught.

What I mean to say is, Americans interpret All Caps as yelling, which is a cultural phenomenon. In SA, there is no indication of All Caps relating to yelling. In fact, many people consider it professional and nice looking. So when sometimes sends me a message “HELLO HOW ARE YOU? I HOPE YOU HAD FUN ON THE HOLIDAYS”, I mentally think that this personal is literally yelling at me. In my mind, I hear them hollering through a long corridor at the top of their lungs. A South African sees nothing unusual in this text. Of course, some people write in All Caps, so why shouldn’t they type in All Caps?

I actually get really stressed when people start writing in All Caps. I can’t help but read it as yelling, an innate part of who I am and the culture I was raised in. Department memos, examinations, enrollment charts, circulars….you name it, it probably has All Caps sprinkled throughout the paper. All day long I am surrounded by yelling text. I’ve tried to communicate that this is not professional nor is it good computer etiquette, and my principal told me “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” As in, I should just shut up and type everything in All Caps.

I can’t do it. I despise the Caps Lock button. I get angry when someone has used it and then left my computer, so when I start typing I end up yelling at myself through text. Not pleasant. No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot overcome this cultural difference.

Nor do I want to. I’m sorry, All Caps seriously is not professional. I know people here use it because they weren’t training in typing, so it is easy to press Caps Lock than hitting shift whenever they need to make a capital letter. But still, shift isn’t THAT hard! And it looks so much better! And it’s something I focus on in typing lessons with the educators at my school.

GOOD BYE MY FRIENDS! (See, it seems like I am yelling, right?)


About Jen Lamos

Christ follower. Writer. Permaculturist. RPCV. Photographer. Gardener. Keeper of Chickens. Daughter of God.

2 thoughts on “CAPS LOCK!!

  1. I see caplocked passages or phrases as BIG HUGS!!! Most people are excited in SA, they have passion and express it freely – and usually positively. Check it out. How many of the caplocked words you do manage to read without freaking out, are in any sense threateniing, negative or what you call yelling, LOUD?? if they had been spoken?
    ….its the incey wincey spider……
    I guess it is a conditioning of your mind and I am sure you have mannaged a many unconditioning event while in Africa all embraced with a big hug.

    BIG HUG! Grace

  2. I completely agree with your post! As an american traveling in South America and Mexico I am faced with the same dilemma. Actually, I found your post during a google search in my attempt to understand the cultural context of this act of using all caps. I simply don’t understand its purpose, it seems so unnecessary and disorienting. On several occasions I would encounter a guy who is pretty interesting, and a possible romantic option. We’ll start talking, and soon we’ll start chatting through facebook. He’ll seem like a pretty cool guy, until, all of a sudden he pulls out the all caps. I don’t want to say its a deal breaker, but it just feels very intrusive. I imagine it as over enthusiasm, and it kind of turns me off. To be honest, until now I wasn’t really aware that it was a social phenomenon. I just thought these guys were weird and kept using it to express their eagerness. I’m going to have to try and understand this a little better and try and be more open about . GOOD LUCK TO YOU AS WELL WITH THIS DIFFICULT FEAT.

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