This probably qualifies as a rant but I think there is a larger theme that is important for all of us who interact with others on the Internet.
I have belonged to one particular Internet community for more than a decade, a pleasant place where we talk about books. And, it continues to be a pleasant place, but today I am annoyed by a member who felt the need to publicly correct my use of the passive voice in a post, claiming it confused her and reassuring me that she only pointed it out because she was very interested in what I was trying to say. I apologized for the grammatical oversight and clarified the point I was making, only to be reminded in her follow up how much she “loathed” passive voice and that my sentence was a perfect example of how confusing it can be. (Honestly, I’ve reread the sentence several times, and I don’t think it was all that confusing in the first place.)
I’ve toyed with what to do: I edited out the passive voice from the post and drafted a witty, slightly sarcastic response. But, I don’t want to continue this silliness in a public forum so skipped the sarcasm. I could message the member privately to let her know that I was embarrassed, but I’m not sure I want to get that personal.
Ridiculously minor in the larger scheme of things, and I know I should let it go (or, as some of you are thinking, grow a thicker skin), but this post is something of an anomaly for this particular community. Plus, I’m wondering how this might feel to a new member of the community. What if that had been my first post ever? And rather than getting some positive support, I am publicly taken to task for my grammar by a long time member? Not very welcoming and I certainly would not be encouraged to continue with active participation.
To her credit, the poster did call herself a “nitpicky pedant,” but it didn’t make me feel any better. I’m not convinced she was all that interested in my point. Instead, it was an opportunity not once but twice to demonstrate her superiority, putting us all on notice that, for today at least, grammar was more important than community.