A few people I know think it’s so funny to catch me in a mistake, especially if it involves a typographical error (even in a text message) or if it’s while talking on the phone (which I hate doing as it is). On-the-phone errors occur more frequently when it’s late at night and I’m exhausted because my problem with switching Rs and Ws becomes obvious. Apparently, it’s all hilarious and I just don’t get the joke.
Fellow editor Andi Cumbo-Floyd shared in a blog post that pointing out someone’s grammatical mistake in public is rude. She also explained that people love to feel superior to a writer or editor by pointing out any mistakes the writer/editor might make.
Never mind that most of them (the ones doing the pointing) don’t know a participle from a preposition, misuse “your” and “you’re” on a regular basis, and positively drip ambiguity. Give them a chance to feel “better than,” and they’ll take it. Even if it makes you feel like crap. It’s actually designed to make you feel like crap, so they can feel like they’re better than you.
Don’t be a jerk when trying to help
They say they’re just trying to help. Oh, really, in a public forum, you yell it so the world knows, and that’s trying to help? You mention it and snicker, and that’s trying to help? Don’t be a jerk. And don’t lie.
They say that they just found it ironic or funny because you’re an editor or a writer. I say, “Hmm, yesh, yesh, I’m so glad that my humanity—my fallibility—is hilarious to you. Let’s put you under the spotlight at your job and examine your performance for any imperfections, ever, and laugh together, shall we?”
Oh, wait, I wasn’t even on the job when these things happened. I was having casual conversations with people I thought were friends, people who might cut me the tiniest bit of slack for having fat fingers or for being exhausted after working more than 150 days straight, or for having a speech issue since I was a kid (which comes out when I’m tired or sleepy or let down my guard. It is exhausting to always have to be on guard. I shouldn’t have to be on guard with my friends).
In case it’s not clear, it bothers me a lot when people do that. I wouldn’t be surprised if it bothered just about everyone it happens to, because they’re human and don’t like to be held to a standard of perfection—especially when they’re off work and trying to relax. Now, if it’s something I’ve published, and there’s a typo, yes, like Andi Cumbo-Floyd, I want to be told about it—privately—so I can fix it.
Don’t be a jerk back.
Would it be fair to examine a person’s life, look for anything we can point out that might be wrong, and make fun of the person for that? No, of course not. That would be a jerk move. And for those who think writing a blog post about it might be a jerk move, too: mayhap, but they’ve all been warned, and people need to hear this message because it’s still happening to just about every editor I know.