The other day, I witnessed something on Facebook that really ticked me off. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened, which is sad. I am sure my fellow “Facebookers” have felt the same way at times.
An inspirational word picture was shared via a timeline. In it, there was a grammatical error. Since it was a quote, I wasn’t sure if the error was intentional or not. However, the message was quite nice and motivational. Then I read one of the comments.
Along with several likes, and “thank you for posting” comments, one “Grammar Nazi” felt it was his duty to point out the error. In this curmudgeon’s mind, the so-called error invalidated the entire word picture and it was his duty to point out such things.
I had seen the Grammar Nazi at work before, on other posts. Each time, I lost a little more respect for this individual.
As someone who’s company’s work is scrutinized on a daily basis, I am used to those who take joy in pointing out our shortcomings.
Some folks see Facebook as a public forum, where anything goes on any post, photo, link, etc. In many ways it is. In one way it definitely isn’t — an individual’s timeline.
To receive access to someone’s timeline posts, you must either be their friend, or a friend of a friend. Yes, I know you can follow certain people, but the protocol is basically an agreed-upon relationship — thin as it may be. They even call themselves “Facebook friends.”
In other relationships, friends don’t constantly point out each other’s shortcomings (or they shouldn’t). However, some feel they have a right to constantly correct other’s grammar, point of view, personal choices, etc., in front of everyone via posts and comments. Doesn’t sound very “friend like” does it?
I wonder how many people often refrain from posting at all out of fear of ridicule? With all the “discussion topics” in Minden these days, I would not be surprised at all if many remained silent.
The waters are muddied a bit with public groups and posts from “non-human” Facebookers (i.e. media outlets, political groups, etc.). These are truly public forums and all bets are off.
When it comes to people’s timelines, however, we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. We should be able to receive the message without picking apart the messenger. We should be able to be polite.
Social media like Facebook are wonderful tools for information and dialogue. However, they are much like the “wild west” with no real filters. Anyone can pretty much say and post whatever they want. Just because you can, does not necessarily mean you should.
Moving forward, I may just have to unfriend, and/or block these curmudgeons. We have enough finger-pointers in the world. I don’t need to see them on my timeline.
David Specht is president of Specht Newspapers, Inc. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.