Dear Grammar Police: Go Eff Youreselves

Dear Grammar Police,

Before I learned that my son has dyslexia, I didn’t notice you much.  Yes, occasionally, I’d see you post a Facebook rant about people who can’t differentiate their/they’re/there or your/you’re.  I know it really irritates you to see a misspelling or misuse of a word (which is why I sprinkled mistakes throughout this letter, just to aggravate you’re elitist brain, like grains of sand sprinkled on your intellectual cupcake.)  Before I learned that my son had dyslexia, my reaction to you was one of the following: 1) Imagining that you were compensating for some time spent alone on the playground growing up, 2)  Thinking that you were being rigid and narrow-minded by not recognizing the fluidity of language.  Language changes over time and new word uses, while they horrify the grammar police, do become the normal and {gasp!} correct, 3) I hate to admit it but, occasionally, I joined you in mocking a disliked public figure who had made a language mistake.  I’m saddened by that third reaction, because I’ve come to see how toxic this is for our culture.

While we have grown past the point in which is it okay to mock someone who is known to be intellectually impaired, it seems like it’s perfectly fine to blast a “normal” person who has made a mistake, snickering about poor spelling or grammar.  As a culture, we promote the values of non-judgement, inclusiveness and lack of prejudice, yet we are fine judging and mocking people based on limited samples of their intellectual capacity.

We tell our children, “don’t be afraid to make mistakes” while snickering at the latest news story about a politician who made an grammatical error.  “Embrace failure!” we extol while clicking share on a meme degrading those who make improper use of a word.  We have created a culture of criticism.  We’ve long realized that this applies to our bodies.  The toxic effect of unrealistic body ideals and fat bashing is well known.  But, we don’t seem to ask ourselves if the same applies to our minds.  What is it like to grow up in our culture today witnessing people being torn apart by others for being less than perfect?

You may not have a son who has dyslexia.  If you do, then you share likely my fear that he will grow up in a world that will judge him harshly based on his spelling.   However, it’s not just our dyslexic children that we need to be worried about.  Hell, it’s not even just our children we should worry about.  The toxic culture of criticism makes everyone feel on edge.  Witnessing so much judgement makes it inevitable that you will anticipate the day when the criticism will come your way.

So please, Grammar Police, hang up your badges.  Lock up the guns you use to shoot insults at people who make errors.  When you see a friend making a mistake, don’t correct them.  Don’t go searching for a cute meme to post about how irritating poor language use is to you.  Instead, take a deep breath.  Reflect a moment with gratitude on the gifts that you have been given in terms of your abilities and education.  Remember that not everyone who makes a spelling mistake is your inferior.  Many bright people spell poorly.  Besides, even if someone is less bright than you, they are no less worthy of a human being.  They may have other strengths that you don’t possess (e.g. not being a judgmental asshat.)  And, for a change, celebrate mistakes instead of mocking them.

Remember, it’s all good.

-Me

 

 

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