You’re writing, be it a blog post, a 120 character tweet, a Facebook status or whatever. The words are just flowing and you’re on a roll. Finished, you press enter and there are your words out there for all to see. Crap! Instead of you’re you used your! Or as the case was for me last night on Twitter, fair instead of fare.
I don’t know about everyone else, but these typos happen to me all the time. In the case of writing a blog post I don’t just press enter. Generally speaking, I comb through the post three or four times in order to catch typos and even then, the moment I press publish, I’ll spot another. Twitter and even Facebook however are different. Because of the way tweets fly by on Twitter along with the number of people that are sometimes involved in the conversation, I am often typing quite quickly and pressing send without a reread. This leads to an even higher number of typos on my part. And yes, I cringe every time I notice one of them, as I did last night.
Now, I’ve had my writing corrected before online, but that was in relation to my fanfic. A scenario in which I specifically requested that readers offer constructive criticism. But last night, was my first experience with unsolicited correction. During a chat with someone on Twitter a third party popped in to tell me I’d used the wrong word. First of all DUH!!! I knew as soon as I pressed enter, but Twitter doesn’t offer an edit feature. Secondly, REALLY??? Joining someone else’s conversation with the sole intent of correcting them. WTF?
I have a pretty thick skin, so I’m not going to skulk off into the shadows because someone told me I used the wrong word. But what about a student of English who has worked up the courage to comment on a blog or tweet in a language they are still learning? Or what about someone who just isn’t that great with written English, but can still convey their thoughts well? I would hate for unsolicited corrections to influence people’s willingness to be a voice in our fandom.
It’s pretty clear where I stand on this issue, no? I find such corrections to be tacky and rude. Various places where people go to be part of a fandom are not a classroom and people should be able to relax, have fun, and as someone put it to me last night, “not have to walk around on eggshells.” Part of me thinks my reaction to this incident is overkill. However, I also know that I’m not alone in my frustration. I’ve had friends in the fandom complain of similar things happening to them.
So I’m asking you dear readers: When–in the context of fandom–is it appropriate to correct someone else’s writing? Just when solicited? In private? On Twitter? In comments on blog posts?
Having lived in a bilingual relationship for over a decade, I know that these issues are fraught. At one point earlier in our association, I gave my “inlaws” carte blanche to correct my German; but after eight years I told them they should stop now unless I was clearly saying something unintentionally that was a huge gaffe.
My response in social media settings to unsolicited correct of errors that are obvious even to me has become: if you understood what I meant to say, leave me alone.
So I guess my stance is that I would never correct someone in the situation you describe — why take the extra time, make an extra effort, to embarrass someone? that’s cruel — and I would only even broach the topic if the typo made the meaning unclear.
If the person who did this to you is the person I’m thinking of, I’m guessing it comes from significant feelings of personal insecurity.