When typos are OK

One day recently, my list of Facebook “memories” included an ironic juxtaposition.

Four years to the day prior, I wrote, “We saw this [production of ‘My Fair Lady’] last night. Many great songs with memorable lyrics, including lines such as ‘But use proper English, you’re regarded as a freak.’ “

On that day nine years ago, I had posted, “Here’s another important anniversary celebrated today: 65 years ago today, Jackie Robinson played in his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.”

They may seem unrelated, but stay with me. When I entered the second post, I accidentally typed “payed” rather than “played.” One of my Facebook friends quickly trolled, “People who make fun of their friends typing should be more careful with their own.”

I tried to write it off by saying something to the effect that Robinson did pay a lot of dues for being a trailblazer. I chose not to point out the missing apostrophe — “friends’ typing” rather than “friends typing.”

But, more to the point of the jab, I don’t recall ever making fun of friends for typos or anything else. It is possible that I may have occasionally pointed out the irony created by a typo. If it came across as a personal attack, I should have worded my comment more carefully. You can be sure, though, that I stopped making such observations forthwith.

In fact, I have commented a few times that typos on Facebook — especially if one is sending from their phone — are absolutely excusable, even expected. Social media comments are conversation, not graduate theses or legal documents.

Here’s where the “My Fair Lady” post connects. As I wrote in another blog post, I am one of those freaks who cares about proper English. At the time of the typo dig, I was being called “grammar police” and worse. This is because, even though I never corrected any individual’s grammar, I occasionally posted general comments about common grammatical errors. I stopped that practice some time in 2013.

It was a small leap from grammar to spelling for anyone who enjoys the social media version of trash talking. I, however, get more enjoyment from irony, such as an unintended twist a typo might offer or the two posts cited falling on the same date.

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