Carefully Not Casting Stones

tre-cover.jpgDuring her South-by-Southwest (SXSW) interview of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, profiled Business Week writer Sarah Lacy was heckled by Facebook enthusiasts as she asked questions. She was noticeably unsettled by members of the audience shouting disruptively, “Ask something interesting!” and “Let US ask the questions!”

After the interview, Lacy fired back via Twitter, “Seriously screw all you guys! I did my best to ask a range of things.” Social networking strategist Jay Deragon makes a very good point in today’s post: “When people attack others it typically represents the desire or need for one to put others down as an attempt at putting themselves up. In reality when we attack others we are actually putting ourselves down.”

Think about that. Really think about it. If we think back in our lives, we come across times when we were insulted by someone who only wanted to insult us to make himself appear to be more athletic, intelligent, handsome (you can insert any adjective to express what the other person wanted to feel).

Personally, I pride myself on grammar. It’s a passion of mine, the same way cars or politics are passions for others. I graduated with a degree in English and Journalism, so I learned not only what to write and what not to write, but also how to write what I do so that it can be understood the first time it is read. However, this does not mean that I am perfect – I’m far from it. When my son comes home from school to write story, he reminds me, “Daddy, you can’t start a sentence with the word ‘and’.”

And because he’s just learning how to write, and grammatical rules are new to him, I let it go. It was not until in college that I started to use and at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs. A journalism professor said on numerous occasions, “Paragraphs need transitions. There’s nothing wrong with using the word and as that transition.”

There really is no need to show publicly someone that his/her grammar is incorrect, unless, as Deragon says, you are a teacher.  Most of the time, it’s best to remember that just because something is true, it doesn’t necessarily need to be said aloud.

Rarely, do I point out someone’s grammatical errors publicly. Most of the time, I don’t point them out to the author or speaker – even when it’s a one-on-one situation. However, when I find an error in the blog post or marketing collateral of someone whom I respect, I will, most times, send an email to the author rather than drawing attention to the flaw publicly in the comment section.

I agree with Mr. Deragon that when one publicly points errors out, or shows someone else’s deficiencies in some area, these actions are to make that person feel more important or better about themselves, in some way. But when someone comes us to say, “Oh, you’ve got spinach in your teeth,” it’s probably not to make us small or less than competent, but rather it is to make our image look the best it possibly can.

How ’bout it?

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Explore posts in the same categories: grammar, networking, relationship economy, social networking, social web, The Communications Factors

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