Does “stationary” matter?
Formality is a curious thing.
I have trouble buying paper and pens at a store that cares so little about competence that they've misspelled the very thing they sell on their sign.
It occurs to me that this is a pretty silly reason not to buy a package of paper. I know exactly what they mean. I'm just being pedantic.
And we judge people by how they choose to wear a tie and jacket, or whether or not they use the correct typeface on their resume. Even though we're hiring them to run a forklift or balance the books.
Is it okay to read and enjoy a self-published book that is poorly laid out? What does hiring a talented layout designer have to do with writing a good book?
Is adherence to cultural norms an indicator of quality and care in other areas? If it's not, how much do we lose when we shun people who don't care about the cultural foundations that we grew up with?
We don't have a word for the satisfaction of engaging with something that's just right, that's both original and also grounded in the quality of execution that comes from an awareness and embrace of the cultural norms that people like us care about. Someone who took the time to get the irrelevant details right. That satisfaction is important to me.
And yet, the irrelevant cues might not be so irrelevant.
Not everyone will judge you because you ignore or don't understand the formalities. (And in fact, the judging and the tsk-tsking aren't always something to aspire to, if it distracts us from the work we're trying to do). But some people will judge you, and if you care about them, cultural norms are a cheap way to earn trust.
It's also a privilege to do something properly.
Will our entire culture go completely to pieces if we stop defending the apostrophe? I don't think so. But understanding formalities is a choice, and you should embrace or reject them with intent.