You’ve worked hard on your blog, or that report or book. The content is excellent but you either made a mistake or used a word differently than someone else thinks it should be used. They attack you on social media, or in email, or in comments on your blog. They act as if nothing else matters but that one mistake – if it even is a mistake.
How you act when the grammar police come knocking depends on the situation. You’ll need to judge each action as it happens on its own record. But, there are some do’s and don’ts to help you along the way.
Don’t Attack Back
The worst thing you can do, especially on a public forum, is to attack back. In some cases you can get away with simply fixing the problem if it’s something you want to fix, and thank the person – or if their comment is particularly rude, delete it.
If you really did make the mistake, and they were nice enough to tell you, you may as well simply thank them. Mistakes happen, and since a lot of online writing lives forever, the fact that you can fix it is amazing. Back when all our writing was in print it was there forever as a mistake.
Have Fun with Them
If you can justify how you used the word, right or wrong, you should have fun with them. Sometimes, you can come up with great reasons why you’re going to use the word anyway, and “thank you very much for letting me write how I want to write when I’m not being graded”. Time has a great article from 2014 by Katy Steinmetz about this very thing.
They Are Bored
Think about what someone’s life must be like for them to take the time to write you 400 words on why you can’t use double negatives or the entire history of the two words you spelled incorrectly. They’re bored. Feel sorry for them before you hit delete.
They Never Become Writers
Think of this; the grammar police has no chance of ever publishing anything because they will be so afraid of making a mistake. They’ll be crippled because they know they’ve told others what bad writers they are; they don’t want the same to happen to them.
Errors Yesterday Not Today
The other thing is that as language evolves, so does grammar. What they learned in 1950 may not apply today. If that’s the case, it’s okay to send them an updated lesson if you really want to spend the time doing it.
Find Their Site
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. If you are really upset about the grammar police you can find their website, find as many errors as you can, then email them about them. This is petty and immature, but sometimes it feels good.
The fact is, some people just think they’re smarter than others and like to try to prove it at any given opportunity. Sometimes people really are trying to help you, but those people will not attack you in public; they’ll send you a nice note privately. You’ll also be able to tell based on tone, and on when they choose to attack your grammar. For example, if they attack your grammar but don’t address the substance of your words, that simply means they don’t know how to argue your points.
As I’ve grown older, I personally tend to take any feedback on board for what it is, I never let anything anyone does upset me as life simply is to short and why waste time being upset.