If you’ve been on the internet for any length of time, you’ve been there.
You compose a cogent, well-written rebuttal or opinion on a message board. Or you tweet something quickly from your iPhone or cell and that pesky autocorrect kicks in. (Most embarrassing autocorrect I’ve experienced: consoling my best friend on the unexpected loss of her uncle had “anyone instead of him” corrected to “Antoine instead of Jim.” Really.) And before you have a chance to edit or re-post with a correction, someone has ignored your entire point and jumped in with a lengthy counterpoint on the correct usage of “it’s.” Grrr.
Today the New York Times has profiled what are colloquially known as “grammar nazis” on the web and their habit of irritating the hell out of everyone and anyone in the name of pedantry. John Cusack comments to the Times on the verbal abuse he’s been subjected to since joining the microblogging service:
“I’m pretty new to it, and if there’s a spell check on an iPhone, I can’t find it,” he said by telephone. “So I basically get in the general ballpark and tweet it.”
Consequently, Mr. Cusack has birthed strange words like “breakfasy” and “hippocrite” and has given a more literary title to his new movie: “Hot Tub Tome Machine.”
Cusack then poses a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another:
“The vitriol was so intense that at first I didn’t think they were serious,” Mr. Cusack said. “Because, like, who would care?”
Who would care, indeed? Well, @capscop, for starters, a Twitter bot dedicated to finding and calling out people who type in all caps on Twitter:
@(redacted) Guess who’s a little caps lock happy? You
@(redacted) Any time that I see you type in all caps I imagine that Billy Mays is saying it.
@(redacted) was trying to make all of their followers deaf with that tweet. Quiet down over there!
And, oh snap:
@(redacted) This isn’t MySpace so maybe you should turn your caps lock off.
The article goes on to detail how many people will freak out and even bring in lawyers when called out for their “twettiquette.” But Cusack prefers to handle it the old fashioned way:
For his part, Mr. Cusack has refused to be silenced. In early April he issued an ultimatum, threatening to block from his account anyone who sniped at his spelling or grammar.
It didn’t work. The people he blocked would return with new account names, “and they’d behave like cranky, obsessive trolls,” Mr. Cusack said.
He has been trying a new strategy, he explained by e-mail: first, he spells things wrong on purpose to get the critics riled up, and then “I blockthem executioer style now with no warning!!”