Will everyone please shut up about the typos on blogs? Show me someone who is blogging every day and also complains about someone’s typos. Just try. See? You can’t. Because anyone who is trying to come up with fresh ideas, and convey them in an intelligent, organized way, on a daily basis, has way too many things on their plate to complain about other peoples’ typos.
There is a new economy for writing. The focus has shifted toward taking risks with conversation and ideas, and away from hierarchical input (the editorial process) and perfection.
As the world of content and writing shifts, the spelling tyrants will be left behind. Here are five reasons why complaining about typos is totally stupid and outdated.
1. Spellchecker isn’t perfect.
Everyone knows that Spellchecker misses some words. And everyone knows that sometimes we think we are making a stylistic choice when we have actually made a grammar error.
And anyway, it’s nearly impossible for us to catch the errors that Spellchecker misses. If it were tenable to proofread one’s own stuff, then there would never have been a copy editor to begin with. And there is research to show that if the first and last letter of a word are correct then our brain adjusts for all the letters in between. (My personal favorite of all Spellchecker problems: form and from. Try it—there are so many cases when both words will get past Spellchecker.)
So don’t bitch to me that I should use Spellchecker.
2. Spelling has nothing to do with intelligence.
Usually the person who is bitching about spelling errors also has to make some comment about how the blogger in question is a moron—but you might want to rethink the idea that a spelling error is a sign of incompetence.
Many people with dyslexia are very smart. Most kids who win spelling bees have many signs of Asperger’s syndrome (see the documentary on this, which I love). This means that many amazing spellers actually have brains that are developing intellectual skills (in this case, spelling skills) at the expense of social skills.
So people who have spelling problems might be super intelligent with great social skills—if you’d just take the time to notice.
3. You don’t have unlimited time, so spend it on ideas, not hyphens.
I am extremely knowledgeable about grammar. I can parse any sentence. I can sign the preposition song in my sleep. So I feel fine telling you that there are great writers who don’t know grammar.
Real grammarians, by the way, have memorized the AP Stylebook. Newspapers and magazines have people who are paid to enforce these rules. There is no way a blogger could hire for this, and few bloggers can justify spending the years it takes to memorize The AP Stylebook. So you could spend your life reading the AP Stylebook, or you could spend your life spouting ideas.
So what if your ideas have hyphens in the wrong places and you turn an adverb into a noun? People can almost always figure out what you’re saying anyway, but they won’t care enough to try without a great idea lurking there to attract their effort. And there’s a reason that people who have amazing ideas get paid twenty times more than people who have amazing grammar: Ideas are worth a lot more to us.
4. Perfectionism is a disease.
If errors bother you a lot, consider that you might be a perfectionist, which is a disorder. Perfectionists are more likely to be depressed than other people because no amount of work seems like enough. They are more likely to be unhappy with their work because delegating is nearly impossible if you are a perfectionist. And they are more likely to have social problems because people mired in details cannot look up and notice the nuances of what matters to other people.
5. Use the comments section for what matters: Intelligent discourse.
The comments section of a blog is a place for people to exchange ideas. The best comments sections, of which I think mine is one, is full of smart, curious people who don’t spend as much time finding perfect answers (are there any?) as finding good questions. The best comments sections are full of people helping each other to sharpen the questions we ask.
So blogging is not an homage to perfectionism but rather an homage to the art of being curious. And while old journalism was hell-bent on being Right and being The Authority, new journalism understands that news is a commodity and opinion-makers are the layer that goes on top of the news to make it resonate. So stop wasting your time in the comments section parsing grammar and start contributing to the discussion.