Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bad Spelling and Poor Grammar

This title is slightly misleading. I don't love bad spelling and poor grammar. At least, not entirely. But something happened to me after a few years of Facebooking: namely every time I saw the word "its" or "it's", I assumed it was spelled wrong. I mean, I know the difference between "its" and "it's" pretty organically. But, every time I saw the word, my first instinct was to roll my eyes at the utter failure of the internet to police the it's/its divide properly. "Honestly," I'd think. "They'll let just anyone on the internet."

And six times out of ten? The word was spelled right. But I am very attached to the notion of my own spelling and grammatical superiority. And this is a shitty way to be.

Think of manners. In their right and proper form, good manners serve to make other people feel more comfortable. When people start to use them to underscore their own social superiority, they're doing it wrong, as demonstrated in countless rom-coms where our plucky heroine gets her man after the snooty bitch he's currently dating concocts some scenario with the purpose of outing the plucky heroine as some low-class tramp.*

Grammar, in its right and proper form, serves to clarify communication. When it becomes a tool for dividing one class of people from another, you're doing it wrong.

And English grammar? The rules there are way sillier than fingerbowls and understanding the proper designation for married vs. unmarried women. Like etiquette, much of good grammar relies on having been educated on antiquated mores.

This is not to say that I don't think there's a place for making sure you're crossing the it's/its divide properly. But that place is not Facebook. That place is not casual communication. From this point forward, I vow to no longer care whether you're using "less" when you should use "fewer"; I promise to no longer smugly groan when someone slips up on their/they're/there on a status update.

One day, we'll look at a lot of correct English spelling and grammar the same way we look at the words "thee" and "thou." As current grammar mores become anachronistic, our method of communication will become more democratic. And I think that's good. Don't u?

* Oddly, the ne plus ultra of RomComs (Bridget Jones Diary) did not feature a scene where the snooty bitch tries to show up Bridget via proper etiquette. Instead, there's this skinny naked American lady who sneers, "You said she was thin," which remains the single most random moment I've ever seen in a movie. I mean, I get how the skinny naked bitch might make you feel... but she'd never say that. That was just weird.