Opinion Pieces / writing

Spelling on the internet: check yourself before you wreck yourself

From the title of this post, one might presume that this article will focus on how to make sure you don’t make any spelling mistakes for your blogs or writing. While that is part of the concern, today I’m more worried about how we act online and treat people who make spelling and grammar mistakes. It’s all good and well to have a bit of a laugh when you notice that someone has written the wrong word, left a word out, spelt something terribly incorrect, etc. I even laugh at myself when I notice these mistakes (after working on an article a few weeks ago, I noticed that I almost submitted the article with the phrase “Super Bowel” instead of “Super Bowl”… It made me think of digestive system with a red cape…) The problem with our enjoyment (and perhaps its more schadenfreude than anything else) when we see mistakes made by other people online, is that we’re not really thinking about the reasons as to why they made the mistake. Sometimes it’s out of complete carelessness, other times it’s from simply not seeing the mistake, it could also be a translation error… and sometimes it has to do with the person’s access to schooling, and therefore privilege.

Errors in linguistic performance happen to people all over the world, on a regular basis. An error in linguistic performance is usually a spoken error: “There is two types of salads” for example (the error is the verb use). Although, I would argue that in our digital age where typing is the new talking, these linguistic performance errors occur throughout our daily digital lives. The only difference between speech and type being that the latter is engraved on the Internet FOREVER. It is also there for grammar trolls arseholes to laugh at and make fun of. Whether the error is a simple slip of the tongue/finger shouldn’t matter. Nobody likes that guy who comments rudely about grammar/spelling errors in articles/comments/blogs etc.

Whilst you shouldn’t need reasons not to bully people about their spelling and grammar online, it is also important to note that while sometimes it’s just a simple mistake, other times the mistake is due to the person’s level of schooling. On top of that, there are also many disorders and diseases that affect how people read, spell, and write. You have absolutely no idea if the person who is writing something online was able to finish school, or is affected by a disorder or disease that might affect their writing abilities. So in case you were looking for a reason to stop your grammar/spelling policing then listen up:

you have no idea what a person’s story is, and making jokes or rude comments about someone’s spelling or grammar doesn’t make you smarter, funnier, cooler, or better. It makes you a jerk. And nobody likes a jerk.

I’ve experienced many times throughout my life online, bullying and rudeness because of a mistake I’ve made with grammar or spelling. Usually, it seems that the person is just trying to feel better about themselves at your expense, but the comments and the embarrassment that comes with them hurt. This does not mean, however, that you should never correct someone’s spelling or grammar if you notice a mistake. For things like online articles and blog posts, I find the best way to correct someone is to send them a message or comment where possible to let them know about the error. You should also probably refrain from prefixing this correction comment with “IDIOT CAN’T SPELL”. This is just one example of how to participate online and to help people.

Have you ever felt bullied by online comments about your grammar or spelling? How did you handle the situation? Remember to always share the reading love.

2 thoughts on “Spelling on the internet: check yourself before you wreck yourself

  1. I’ve noticed spelling mistakes twice now in my Twitter bio. I don’t think I’m a bad speller, just challenged by the touchscreen keyboard! Luckily, no one has been a dick and pointed it out on either occasion.