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By Selwyn Duke
Being simultaneously comical and tragic, perhaps nothing reflects our descent into Idiocracy more than millennials who’ll insist their misspellings of words are correct. Just yesterday I read an eyebrow-raising story about this that was quite timely, as I’d experienced millennial spelling moronity just the day prior.
My case involved a leftist who emailed me with some deep, substantive criticism: He said I was “insane,” “nuttier than a fruitcake” and “f*****g” nuts.” I responded to him. While I generally don’t play the spelling Nazi, leftists’ characteristic superciliousness inspired me to mention to him, kindly, that he’d written “you’re” as “your” three times in six sentences. His response?
“I am under 40,” he wrote. “Your vs you’re is interchangeable.”
(Come to think of it, if that’s his I.Q., it would explain his answer.)
But on to the far more interesting and dramatic story I mentioned earlier. According to The Fellowship of the Minds (FOTM) blog, it’s from a series of July tweets by a Georgetown University adjunct professor of public relations and journalism named Carol Blymire; it relates something she’d witnessed. As the blog presents it:
In office space near a client, a young woman was meeting with her boss. She was (by my estimation) in her late 20s.
The boss (also a woman) was giving her feedback and reviewing edits she had made on something this young woman wrote.
They had been speaking in low tones, but their volume got louder toward the end of the conversation because the young woman was getting agitated about a particular edit.
That particular edit was correcting the spelling of “hampster” to “hamster”. [sic] Apparently she had used the phrase “like spinning in a hamster wheel” in this draft (presumably) speech or op-ed.
The young woman kept saying, “I don’t know why you corrected that because I spell it with the P in it.” The boss said (calmly), “But that’s not how the word is spelled. There is no P in hamster.”
Young woman: “But you don’t know that! I learned to spell it with a P in it so that’s how I spell it.”
The boss (remaining very calm and professional), [said] let’s go to https://t.co/n2ZU5Uuuy3 and look it up together. (mind you, this is a woman in her late 20s, not a 5th grader) [sic]
The young woman insists she doesn’t need to look it up because it’s FINE to spell it with a P because that’s HOW SHE WANTED TO SPELL IT.
The boss says, “Let’s look over the rest of the piece so I can explain the rest of my edits.” They do, and I can see the young woman is fighting back tears. The boss is calm, cool, and handles this with professionalism and empathy.
Boss says, “I know edits can be difficult to go over sometimes, especially when you’re working on new kinds of things as you grow in your career, but it’s a necessary process and makes us all better at what we do.”
Boss gets up from table and goes to her office and the young woman can barely hold it together. She moves to another table in the common workspace area, drops all her stuff loudly on the table top, and starts texting. A minute later, her phone rings.
It was her mom. She had texted her mom to call her because it was urgent, and I’m sure her mother maybe thought she was in the ER or something. She then … PUTS HER MOM ON SPEAKERPHONE. IN THE WORKPLACE.
She bursts into tears and wants her mom to call her boss and tell her not to be mean about telling her how to spell words like “hamster”. [sic]
The mother tells her that her boss is an idiot and she doesn’t have to listen to her and she should go to the boss’ boss to file a complaint about not allowing creativity in her writing.
The young woman kept saying, “I thought what I wrote was perfect and she just made all these changes and then had the nerve to tell me I was spelling words wrong when I know they are right because that is how I have always spelled them.”
She then went on (still on speakerphone) to tell her mom I’m very great and office-inappropriate detail about how hungover she was and what she and her friends did with some guys the night before. Mom laughed and laughed.
The colleagues in and around the workplace kept looking at one another and some even put earbuds/headphones in/on. It appeared as though this was a regular thing with her.
She ended the conversation asking her mom how she should bring this up with the boss’ boss. “I mean, I always spell hamster with a P, [sic] she has no right to criticize me.” […]
Based on the way her mom spoke to her and they way they spoke to one another, it seemed as though this young woman had never been told she was anything but perfect by family. […]
Her boss seemed as dumbfounded through the conversation as I was in overhearing it.
I think I was most perplexed by the insistence of wanting to spell something the way she wanted to because SHE WANTED TO, ignoring the fact that there are rules and dictionaries. And seeming offended that anyone would suggest the use of an outside resource as reference.
Had I been the boss, I’m sure the young woman’s tears would have flowed much sooner and more profusely. It would have been the result of the dressing-down I’d have given her. I was never one to suffer fools gladly.
The FOTM mentions that this isn’t an isolated case, either. In fact, the blogger, who apparently has taught in college herself, related a story about what transpired when an undergraduate complained to her about a poor grade she gave him on a paper. After telling him that she had trouble understanding his work because it was riddled with errors, he replied “I don’t subscribe to the rules of the English language!” and marched from the classroom.
It would be easy to chalk this up to “inventive spelling,” a phenomenon of recent decades whereby, instead of correcting a child’s spelling, a teacher will allow him to misspell words based on his phonetic conception of them. But it goes far deeper than that.
First, we live in the post-Truth West. A study I often cite vindicates this assessment, showing that less than 10 percent of teenagers believe in Truth (absolute by definition) and that a majority of Americans are most likely to make what should be moral decisions “based on feelings.”
Why is this relevant? If people believe Truth doesn’t exist and, therefore, that what we call morality (divine rules) is mere “perspective,” they probably won’t care much about man’s rules — especially since, by their lights, those rules can’t possibly correspond to anything transcending man. Their governing philosophy then becomes “If it feels good, do it.” This was evident in the young woman in the story, who, essentially, insisted she was correct because her feelings told her so.
Relating to this, there’s also the narcissism, the solipsism, the self-centeredness that results when you raise godless children on self-esteem bunk and treat them as if their body odor is a floral scent. And, related to that, there’s pridefulness, which precludes self-improvement. A humble person can accept correction, see flaw in himself and learn. The prideful person’s ego impedes great improvement in anything.
As for employees who are mere overgrown children, I’d respond to their antipathy for rules and their inventive spelling by giving them an inventive paycheck.
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