“Be curious, not judgmental.”
This week I post a misspelled, passive aggressive status to Facebook – all in an attempt to challenge my perfectionism and sense of propriety.
Part One – Perfectionism
Now, I’m hardly your stereotypical perfectionist. In fact I’m pretty careless in a lot of ways; however, when something is important to me I will give it an incredible amount of attention and care. At its best, this characteristic means that I possess remarkable attention to detail. At it’s worst, it can be completely immobilizing – such as when I choose not to even attempt something for fear of failure or appearing foolish.
My perfectionism often exhibits itself in my writing. I will obsess over grammar and spelling; which is precisly what makes posting a misspelled Facebook status so terrifying. The idea of appearing less than intelligent in front of my friends and family is horrifying to me.
If you’re a “Grammar Nazi” I would encourage you to try posting your own misspelled status or comment. Go on, I dare you to misspell something and share it with the world. I think you’ll be surprised by just how painful it is; and conversely how liberating it is when you realize that most people simply don’t care about your spelling. That’s not to say that spelling and grammar aren’t important, just that mistakes aren’t always such a big deal.
If however, you’re in the other camp and you’re not sure why I care in the first place, then I have to ask: good God, what is wrong with you? Seriously, in this day and age – with the advent of spell check – there is simply no good reason for you to post misspelled things on Facebook or anywhere else. I’m not buying that you’re just too fabulously busy to bother checking. If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying in a way that people can actually comprehend and don’t have to work at deciphering. If you’re a bad speller and you don’t have the time to spell check on the go then, I don’t know, maybe you should just wait till you get home to post that late breaking update about how great your breakfast is. Just saying…
Part Two – Propriety
The other thing that this experiment toys with is my sense of Propriety. Propriety has to do with conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals. It’s behaving properly and I’m mildly obsessed with it. Propriety is useful in that it guides us through a complex world, teaching us not only what is to be expected of other people, but of ourselves. But it can also work against us; such as when we become obsessed with making the people around us behave appropriately. (Making yourself behave = Good. Making other people behave = Bad). Nothing activates my Propriety Police reflex faster than a passive aggressive Facebook post. (For those who don’t know about the Propriety Police, they work closely with both the Grammar Nazis and the Fashion Police to ensure that the world runs smoothly and people look good).
In case you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing it, passive aggression is the indirect expression of hostility. It can take a number of forms, such as: procrastination, sarcasm, hostile jokes, resentment, sullenness or more commonly, Facebook statuses. It lashes out at someone… anyone… everyone. It begs people to ask “What’s wrong? What on earth happened?” but it never gives you a coherent answer. It’s really just an attention seeking tool. Passive aggressive Facebook posts are intimately related to vaguebooking. Examples of these posts include but are not limited to: “I dont even know why I try.”, “Sometimes ur such a bitch!” and “somtimes I realy hate how stoupid U r..” As you can see, passive aggressive Facebook posts are usually full of spelling errors – hence my delightful post.
In my mind, should I ever see you post such a thing, it’s basically as if you just shit yourself in public and you’re walking around with it. Imagine that. That’s the face I’m making when I read your post. I don’t hate you exactly but I do wonder what I ever saw in you and would prefer you not stand too close to me.
So why put up this misspelled, passive aggressive status in the first place? The idea that what we hate most in others is the very thing we fear in ourselves is hardly new; nonetheless it applies here. So other than an opportunity to passive aggressively complain about my most reviled Facebook misbehaviour, I guess this experiment pretty much boils down to making myself uncomfortable and facing my worst fear: that I can be just as stoupid and vulnerable as the rest of them.
In the end, no one says much about my post. Actually, a few people like it, provoking mixed feelings – do I love them for their unqualified support or worry about their judgment? I suffer in silence for a few hours, mentally squirming as I imagine people reading it, before I forget about it and decide I don’t really care. At all. Because in the end, I am what I am.
I’m a perfectionist and I’m careless. I’m proper and I’m utterly inappropriate sometimes. I’m intelligent and I’m dumb as shit. And the world doesn’t revolve around my perceived imperfections; which is actually pretty liberating!