Calm down Facebook, it’s just a typo

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A message to constantly commenting Facebook bullies: knock it off.

We’ve all seen them; the comments directed at politically charged issues that lack eloquence or even tact. We’ve seen debates unfold on other people’s Facebook posts that get so long, you need an hour just to read one rant. It’s annoying, usually. But that’s not what I’m about to rant about. My beef with Facebook is directed at the ill-advised grammar Nazi community who assaulted an unsuspecting Huffington Post writer today.

A couple of days ago, as I was fumbling around at the last minute trying to tie up any loose ends and make sure I hadn’t missed anything important before having to call it quits for a couple hours, I noticed a compelling article shared by Huff Po about a man who had more job search success as Joe than he did as Jose.

The topic caught my eye. What also caught my eye was the painful spelling snafu, “Employers would much rather higher a “Joe” than a “Jose.”

The mistake caught me like a punch in the face. I chuckled a little, but what really bothered me was knowing this writer was going to feel like a jerk when he/she (the name, Cate Matthews, is probably female, but I won’t venture to guess) realized the error.

Then a third thing hit me; the comments.

“Higher? Really?”

“Huffington Post writers are idiots.”

“Maybe Jose should have your job.”

It went on and on and about an hour later, the spelling slip-up was corrected.

The article written by Matthews was a compelling topic about a very real and very sad problem, but the focus of discussion didn’t center on that, as it very well should. Instead, it was a bunch of bullies picking on a writer.

This has become a norm on social media and it has to stop. To make my point, let me educate the Facebook faction that seems to think they have the authority to judge one simple mistake.

There’s this thing called the 24-hour news cycle. It’s glorious. It’s why in five minutes of perusing Facebook or Twitter or any other of dozens of news-sharing sites, internet users can consume more news in less time as it’s happening. That’s great for you folks, but let me explain what it does to us.

We are at constant odds with time. Bloggers understand that the quicker you publish, the more likely you are to be the first to report something. Seconds can sometimes be the difference between getting scooped and being the one doing the scooping. And our blogging bosses, they take that seriously.

So, Matthews was probably in a hurry. That brings me to lesson number two for the cocky critics who bashed this unfortunate victim: muscle memory.

I don’t know how scientific it is, but think about the amount of times Matthews probably types the word “higher” in a day verses how many times he/she types “hire.” Think about these common phrases, “higher job growth,” higher wages,” “higher unemployment,” “higher temperatures.” Higher is a pretty common word to use in blogging especially with so much focus on jobs, the economy and climate change.

So, when Matthews had to type, “hire” his fingers probably just took over and typed “higher” instead because that’s what those quick little typing bastards know best.

My third lesson; this job is thankless. You can say this about a lot of careers. Teaching. Social work. It’s true for us too and the last thing we need after a day of following a dozen different stories all at once, staring at a computer screen, waiting for calls, is you yelling at us over one simple mistake, and not even a substantive one.

We have to knock on stranger’s doors. We have to pester grieving mothers who have lost a child. We have to hound politicians for comments and hope we’re somehow charming enough to get a legitimate one. We have to drop what we’re doing to do something else because, well, that’s news. We miss birthdays. We work 24/7, but certainly don’t get paid to.

Show a twinge of compassion for a job most people take for granted.

So, should Cate Matthews have proofread her post before submitting it? Absolutely. But how many times have those nasty little commenters accidentally typed “to” instead of “too” or “there” instead of “their?”

So, grammar Nazis of the world, it’s fine to point out a mistake, but don’t assume the assailant is dumb. It was more likely just an oversight – especially when it’s a professional.

And don’t forget, we’ve all done it.


Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email [email protected]