I have Fontalitis. Whew. I am glad to get that off my chest. I didn’t realize I had it until recently when I was glancing at an ad and realized I could not immediately read the font. It wasn’t my eyesight that was the problem. I could see clearly, I just could not discern the name of the product. I don’t know if you too suffer from this dis-ease, but if you do, I want to send a consoling message.
I can’t remember when I first heard the word “font,” but it wasn’t all that long ago. I am sure people in the newspaper and publishing business knew this word long before the internet and Microsoft Word gave us the option to choose our own fonts. Having this choice, most people opt for legibility, but like the artists who created posters for rock groups in the 60’s, some people like to explore the creative edges. I am all for creativity and enjoy scrolling through font options when the mood strikes me. I don’t even mind people creating their own fonts. I just don’t like it when I can’t read them.
I imagine someone else thought of the term Fontalitis, but I could not find it on Google so perhaps I suffer alone. I did find Fontalicious which is a company that specializes in creating fonts both legible and less so.
Maybe the inability to decipher certain fonts is something people are reluctant to speak out about. If you happen to suffer, and that may be too strong a word, from the occasional moment of “what the hell does that say?” I would welcome hearing from you. Misery does love company and perhaps we can strike a blow for clarity and legibility. Or at least know we are not alone.
I have to admit my own handwriting leaves something to be desired. I have even found there are times when I write myself a note that later on I am hard pressed to decipher. And I certainly know the notes I write to others are not always fully grasped by them. My poor handwriting skillset may be shared by more people as schools move away from teaching handwriting and as we increasingly rely on technology to deliver our messages. Yet there is something different between my poor handwriting skills and another’s choosing a font that challenges others ability to comprehend.
I know that having a certain style and font that is indecipherable to others does make for inclusive groups. Having a common language that excludes others is what being in the “in” group (or any group) is partially about. A group’s ability to communicate in such a way as to include those in the know and exclude others is common to many groups. I get that doctors, plumbers, high school students, friends and families all have their own vocabulary. We have common experience and develop language for those experiences. So be it.
I just don’t like it when I read something that seemingly I might be interested in and yet I can’t quite figure out what it is without a greater degree of attention than I want to employ. I may be missing out on something that I might have valued or saved myself a journey I ultimately didn’t want to take. If the intent is to attract interest, it works. I just don’t know what I am attending to. If you want broader interest you might aim for greater clarity. If you want more exclusivity, carry on.