It’s possible that, as a writer, I’ve spent the past twelve years obsessed with typos. In posts. In tweets. In manuscripts.
It’s also possible that, as a human, I’ve spent my entire life avoiding typos. (Both actual and metaphorical.)
Over the past few months in quarantine, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much time I’ve wasted—especially in the past decade or so—trying to fix every typo I’ve already made, and trying to prevent typos I might make still.
(I’m still talking about both actual and metaphorical typos. But you probably figured that out.)
I say this time has been wasted because let’s face it: Perfection doesn’t exist. And if you’re constantly picking at something good, worrying that it could be EVEN BETTER, you’re generally going nowhere.
For better or worse, I’m super great at going nowhere.
For example: I’ll post something only to realize afterward there was a typo in it. My face burns as I imagine being judged by others who night not know I typed were only to be autocorrected to we’re.
Sometimes the mistake is 100% mine, not autocorrect.
Either way, I agonize over whether to delete the post, which would also mean deleting any support I’d received before I spotted the error.
Me: Just add *were after it.
Me: What if someone doesn’t see the asterisk?
Me: WHAT IF EVERYONE THINKS I AM DUMB?
These are the conversations I have in my head before I give up and stuff a sandwich in my face.
Then, after my sandwich is gone, I’ll spot a glaring typo in someone else’s tweet that’s gotten 10,000 retweets.
THERE’S A MISTAKE IN THE THIRD WORD! SHE MEANT TOO INSTEAD OF TO AND YET THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE SHARED THIS!
HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?
(I don’t know, Julie. Maybe what she said was more important than how she said it…)
Sometimes a tweet with a typo is followed by comments from people who disapprove of the overall message. So they attack the messenger. (You meant *too, dumbass.)
Then others who approve of the original message or messenger attack the criticizer. (You’re being an ass, TOO.)
The thing is, it’s easy to give the benefit of the doubt when we agree with the original content. It’s even easier to assume stupidity when we disagree with it.
This got me thinking: If we’re all predisposed to care or not care about a typo based on the perceived intent behind the words, maybe a typo really doesn’t matter.
Yeah. Imagine that.
Imagine if a typo in a post or a tweet or a manuscript or in life wasn’t the end of the world? What if a single mistake is not the barometer by which someone’s worthiness will be assessed for the rest of eternity?
As crazy as that sounds, this is closer to how I’ve always viewed my own typos—the real ones and the metaphorical.
But weeding out every typo is exhausting. And never taking chances—never putting yourself out there so you won’t accidentally make a mistake—is limiting.
Not to mention impossible.
For a while now, the twitter world has been debating the benefits of adding an edit button. At first blush, the idea does sound reasonable. Who hasn’t wished for an easy fix? But some people worry an edit button could be abused. What if someone posts something you support, and you respond positively, only to have that person edit the post to something horrible, so your support makes you look inaccurately horrible?
By the way, it’s worth noting that what is totally horrible to me might be totally not-horrible to you. We all love and hate different things. Hate is relative. Love is relative. Life is relative.
What am I even saying now?
I really should edit this post.
But I’m coming down on the side of a No Edit Button, even though my typo-phobic self would love a do-over option.
In writing and in life.
Let’s embrace our typos, instead.
(If we’re being metaphorical, some typos are bigger than others, and not as easy to embrace. If we can’t embrace them, let’s at least allow for the possibility that what we’ve done in the past brought us to where we are now. And there’s beauty to be found where we are now.)
Getting stuck in what might have been gets you nowhere; and getting nowhere, as I’ve established, is something I’m already super great at.
Did you notice that the prior sentence ended in a preposition?
Guess what— I don’t even care.
See? I’m probably all better now.
Me: Better is relative.
Me: I know.
Me: Do you, really?
Me: Let it go, Julie.
Me: I’ll let it go, to.
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