Body shaming. Fat shaming. Thin shaming. Parent shaming. The list of every kind of shaming under the sun grows longer by the minute. Some days, I shake my head at all of the bullies coming out of the cyber woodwork. It’s sad that so many find pleasure in hurting others with their mean, ugly words. It’s sadder still that their victims take what they say to heart. While bullies shouldn’t have that much power over us, sometimes they do. Because that old sticks and stones thing? It’s wrong.
Words can hurt. But now, thanks to the internet drawing immediate attention to the problem, cyber bullies are called out. It doesn’t always stop them, but it helps the victims by showing them that decent people will never find that sort of behavior acceptable.
One thing about all of this bothers me though. No matter how long the list of unacceptable shaming grows, one thing is always missing.
[bctt tweet=”Where are all of the anti-shaming champions when it comes to spelling and grammar Nazis?” username=””]
I’ve touched on this subject a couple of times in the past. Why is it wrong to make a plus size swimsuit model feel bad about her size, or to tell a blonde joke, but it’s okay to humiliate someone who can’t spell, or who uses ‘then’ instead of ‘than?’
Shaming involves making one person feel bad so another can feel better about himself/herself. And grammar and spelling Nazis are experts at trying to make their victims feel stupid. On any given day, it’s clear a lot of thought and effort goes into making memes designed to humiliate them.
And the thing is, if the people they’re making fun of were actually speaking aloud instead of posting online, no one would ever know that they spell ‘hair’ as ‘hare’ – or always use ‘their’ when they mean ‘they’re.’
How many of us would appreciate doctors who made us feel stupid because they went to medical school and we did not? Or a mechanic who always greeted us with, “Here’s the idiot again. Are you ever going to learn to change your own oil or spark plugs?”
We’d probably be finding new doctors and mechanics in a big hurry. Why? Because no one likes being made to feel inferior. Not even bullies.
People just really need to start thinking before they post things designed to hurt others. Think about everything they can’t do or aren’t good at. About how they’d feel if those that could made concerted efforts to wound and shame them.
Then, maybe they’d think twice before posting insulting memes and comments. Maybe not, but you never know…
Photo credit: Morguefile.com
I think bullies are insecure and feel the need to be validated. I’ve had a couple of people point out my grammar/spelling errors in the past, and after some time, I learned they were so afraid they’d write the “imperfect” book that they couldn’t even finish their stories. They were terrified people were going to find errors in their work and point them out. (One lady even said she spent hours on a single email because she had to keep going over it to make sure it as perfect.) And yet, these people had no qualms about attacking other writers who were brave enough to publish their work. It takes courage to step out and present our work to the world. Maybe they resent authors because they let fear hold them back. Maybe we remind them of that. It doesn’t make it any easier to deal with their tactics, but it has helped me put things in perspective.
I love your doctor and mechanic examples. 🙂
I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with that sort of thing too, Ruth. I have early books I either need to go back and fix – or just leave them be and keep writing new, better edited stories. Back then, I thought if I read through them very carefully, I could find all of the mistakes. Unfortunately, I was wrong, lol. I’m working on one older story right now, and have already fixed a few of the other ones. But some people are still unhappy that I’ll have some typos and other mistakes. I remind myself that I’ve yet to buy a traditionally published book that didn’t have at least a few issues – and some more than others.
I suspect you’re correct that some people who are afraid to put their work out there are tougher on authors than they should be. But I think a lot of it boils down to needing to feel better about themselves. Unfortunately, in order to do that, they have to make others feel bad.
One of the saddest things about this trend though is what happens on social media. Sometimes, it’s clearly things like auto-correct and predictive text that slaughter comments and status updates, but even if people posting really don’t know the difference between words like there and their, they still don’t need to be attacked over it. And I’m sorry to say, some of the worst insults come from authors and professionals who will defend the swimsuit model I mentioned to the death, but let someone misuse or misspell a word, and they’re the first to start insulting the intelligence of the “offenders.” I know I’ve offended more than a few authors by pointing out that it’s not terribly wise to call their potential readers stupid, but I still see it happen on a regular basis.
With all of the real problems in the world today – diseases, wars, earthquakes, and all of the texting and driving deaths and injuries – who cares if a word is spelled or used wrong? Ten to one, even with the error(s), those offended know what they were saying anyway. :/
Kristy,I teach this very subject to my niece and nephew. As I told you, before becoming disabled, I was a teacher. I also worked a second job as an HR Manager. I continue to home school them, and I teach them a computer class that identifies and explains cyber bullying. I go further and detail bullying as a whole. I taught English and grammar. Studies have shown that as we get older our brains do not always catch a misuse of a homophone. Eg: Wants up on a time. When we go back and look at it, of course you can edit it to Once upon a time. Some of the nazis you mentioned jump all over errors like this. I would NEVER dream of correcting a person or make them feel bad. My niece has to use a discussion board in her classes. At ten years old she has become appalled at certain grammar usage, and says it’s embarrassing that they even get a grade at times. I explained that while it’s ok to be critical, and use another’s work to detail how concise yours is, it is rude and unkind to call them out on it. She would never do that. She has been cyber bullied as well and handled herself as I taught her. It is these nazis that want to demean you for the misuse of two and too, yet I guarantee they TOO, chop the the language when texting or messaging. This was an additional language I had to learn!! You touched on this subject a couple of times and I want you to know each time it’s thoughtful and informative. I feel that now, in this age, it’s important that everyone take an etiquette class where computers are concerned. You are a faceless, emotionless being. When writing you cannot see hand or facial gestures, and if you do not consider how you write things, with those thoughts in mind, you too could be a bully without realizing it. Then again, you have those who bully to bully because they need that “high” to propel them up where they think they are elite and better than anyone else, thus creating the cyber narcissist. I am glad you bring these thoughts to the forefront. I wish everyone could read your thoughts on this. Thank you!
And I’m glad you’re teaching your niece and nephew how to handle the ugly side of the internet. I wish more people would do the same with everyone they know, not just kids. Unfortunately, there are as many (if not more) adult bullies than there are younger ones. The worst thing about all of this is that it seems to be making its way offline, if attitudes of people on the road and in stores are anything to go by. We just live in a world where it’s becoming more and more acceptable to be rude and hurtful to others, no matter where we are. Hopefully, it will never get as bad as it is online though.
Oops. I meant to apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I’ve completely lost track of time this week. 🙂