The word “Nazi” is instantly recognized as a reference to the genocidal ideological party whose violence and atrocities are infamous throughout history, particularly in the years surrounding World War II, but also in current events. It is not a term that most of us would readily choose to be associated with, for good reason, and yet many of us enthusiastically embrace the label of “Grammar Nazi”. Is it out of some misplaced sense of superiority linked to a strong grasp of the structural rules of the English language? Or do we just think its clever? Whatever the reason, it is way past time to acknowledge that it is offensive (or at least, insensitive). It is minimizing the horrific experiences of millions of people.
In addition to the fact that it’s a wildly distasteful term, the behavior that it describes is obnoxious. Who do we think we are? Literally no one died and made us the grammar police. The internet, especially social media, has given us greater opportunity to judge each other than ever before. We judge each other’s photos, senses of humor, political beliefs, and anything else we are given access to. In all fairness, it is the internet. When we sign up for social media, we sign up for the ugliness that lives there. The more active you are, the more you expose yourself for scrutiny. But at the end of the day, does it really matter if someone uses the wrong form of their/there/they’re in a Facebook post?
I used to be a self-professed Grammar Nazi. I took great pleasure in correcting people’s grammar online, especially during an argument. The level of satisfaction that I felt when I replied with, “*you’re” to an ignorant political comment is shameful. I reveled in the glory that I was clearly the more intelligent participant. I mean, come on, this other idiot can’t even spell. In my mind, I was dropping those corrections like a mic, and it was delightful. Obviously, I, and my superior intellect, won the debate with that crushing blow.
Now, I view this behavior differently. For one thing, if I’m as smart as I think am, then surely I can understand someone’s point even if they utilize the wrong form of a word. Calling attention to it doesn’t make me look smart, it makes me look like an asshole. Also, everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes typing too passionately, or too quickly, results in an error. But even if a person genuinely doesn’t know how to differentiate between common word forms, it does not necessarily mean they are stupid or uneducated. It is possible to graduate from high school, and even college, without mastering this concept. If the person goes on to find a cure for cancer, who fucking cares if they can spell? I have a friend that can do things with computers that I cant even begin wrap my mind around, but who also constantly misuses and misspells words. So what? He is laughing his genius ass all the way to the bank. I still give him a hard time about it, though. Sorry, Todd.
Now, I am not saying that the internet isn’t full of morons. It is. I am simply suggesting that a typo, or a weak grasp of spelling and grammar, does not make someone a moron. Imagine the interesting people and ideas that you could be missing out on because of a misplaced sense of superiority. It is time to turn in the badges. There is no Grammar Police force.