Last week, I wrote a post on Facebook that I immediately wanted to delete.
It was a clever little finger wag about grammar.
I hate clever. I love dumb, I love funny, but clever is yuck. Clever is “Get it? Get it?” It’s a pursed-lip giggle with fanned fingers touched to pearls, in an “Oh my, I’m a hoot” gesture. The gang sign of self-satisfied punsters and Dorothy Parker wannabes.
The post was this:
Get it? Get it? The correct grammar would’ve been “You’re not doing yourself any favors with that one constant grammar mistake. If you’re wondering what mistake, I’m talking to you.” (Actually, the correct grammar should probably be “which mistake,” not “what mistake.” )
More and more, I see people switching your and you’re, writing, “Your welcome.” “Your pretty.” “I like you’re smile.” “Your a moron.”
And yup, I judge. I think:
“What’s wrong with people? Why don’t they know or care?”
Sure, we all make mistakes, especially on social media. But I feel it’s every person’s duty to burn with shame when they realize they’ve hit “enter” without noticing a typo.
Well, clearly, I’m not alone.
The people who got my little joke also care, and lots of them clicked “like” and commented. Over a hundred likes without a hot selfie!
Which made me think, OK, I won’t delete it.
Because if lots of people like it, that means it’s good and I’m good (and pretty and popular and worthy).
Everyone added their most hated mistakes. “What about irregardless?” “Supposably!” “BETWEEN YOU AND I!” It was a grammar fiend’s pet-peeve party.
But one guy, someone I barely know who friended me after a house-dance class, hated on my post.
“No one cares. I’m sure you struggle in something”
Bolstered by all my likes, I replied, “Look how many people DO care!”
And he came back with, “I’m sure you can not do math or struggle to read a map. Get off your high horse”
I was going to write back that actually, I was in the advanced math class in high school and I have GPS on my phone that even tells you how to avoid traffic, so my map skills aren’t an issue.
And, that I like my high horse. Sure, I’d be a disaster riding an actual horse. (He’s right, I struggle with something.) But I’m super comfy on this pretty filly of personal superiority. Giddyap!
I like feeling strident. And, I see grammar as different from map reading or math because it’s how we communicate. It’s a big part of how we present ourselves to the world. Right?
Plus, this guy who wrote “No one cares”? His profile pic is shirtless.
All pecs. He has pro-life posts on his timeline. He once posted, “If she brings you beer in fishnets she’s a keeper.” You know what I’m saying here? Other than which DJ is spinning the best house beats, we’re probably not going to agree on much.
But then I started thinking: Am I being totally arbitrary?
I’ve decided it’s fine to break some rules, and idiotic to break others.
After all, part of what I do for work is teaching people to write like they talk. I encourage them to toss out the formal structures they learned in school so their writing sounds more conversational. I do that myself. All over this blog entry, I’m taking a piss on what I learned in English class. Sentence fragment much?
What I object to is when people use incorrect grammar to try and sound smarter — like, using “myself” when it’s not called for. As in, “Laura and myself are going to the movies.”
Or, when they break the rules unintentionally and without purpose. The your/you’re thing. Its/it’s. And, of course: “Are you going to there house? They’res going to be free shrimp their!”
It looks ignorant. Sloppy. Uneducated.
“Yes,” my friend Victoria agreed. We were talking about it on the phone.
“But not everybody is educated. Not everyone had the same opportunities. And maybe they feel bad about it. I thought the post was really clever [ouch], but — don’t be offended by this — it was also a little bit ‘Brearley.'”
Brearley was my all-girls’ private high school. Vic knows and loves my Brearley friends, but has also observed — accurately — that we can get a little judge-y and prim. It’s our legacy. (Along with a school song titled “By Truth and Toil.”)
Vic pointed out that language is an evolving thing.
True. If it weren’t, we’d all be talking like Chaucer. “Checketh out mine kale salad! Forsooth, ’twas delicious.”
And, social media is casual. Maybe it’s OK to drop the rules when we’re just chillin’ online.
Maybe it doesn’t matter how you spell, doesn’t matter if you say “between you and I,” doesn’t matter if you put apostrophes in ridiculous places (or ridiculous place’s), if everyone gets (get’s) what you mean.
Maybe the lot of us who laugh at people’s bad grammar are like a bunch of old grandmas clucking about the outrageous fashions these days. “Obscene! In my day, a lady didn’t show her ankles!”
So maybe I’ll get off my high horse. Or maybe not.
“But misspelling your and you’re looks so moronic,” I insisted to Vic. I couldn’t get away from it.
“Right,” she said. “But maybe no one cares.”
Do you care? Should you? Should I?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.