Usin’ Some Grace Colloquially

I wrote this piece for my school newspaper. It got relatively good feedback. My friends enjoyed it. People I didn’t know enjoyed it. I should have counted that as a success. But I didn’t. The one, loud, glaring piece of feedback is a comment someone posted. The commenter accused me of using too many exclamation points (maybe I did, so what!) and too many colloquialisms (I use colloquialisms on the reg so whatevs). Those are facts. I did use more exclamation points and more colloquialisms than normal journalism usually allows. But he went further. He said these things damaged my credibility and that the piece sucked. Downer.

I got angry at first. I wanted to respond to his comment and tell him he was really stupid for thinking all of that. In my daydream, other people came to my rescue, too. They lauded my response and ridiculed him and basically verbally pummeled him. Obviously, this was not a healthy place to be.

And then I got to thinking. I do this all of the time. I criticize things that I have no right in criticizing. For example, I was recently reading this best seller, and I just wasn’t jiving with the writing style. I got to this point where I was thinking that this piece was objectively bad writing. But obviously, it’s not. It was a bestseller. Thousands of people love it. I just want my own opinion to be justified on an objective basis, and that’s balderdash.

I have a friend who gets to work with famous people regularly. A week or two ago, a group of us was all really excited because she got to meet a celebrity we all really admire. Turns out, this celebrity wasn’t all that nice to my friend. And we were all really disappointed when she told us. But my friend pointed out that she only got to interact with the celebrity for a couple of hours. So maybe the celebrity was having a bad day or a bad week or was going through something hard or was disappointed in the ticket sales. None of those things really justify being mean or rude, but at least they humanize the whole thing. We can identify with people who are mean because they are distracted by other things. That makes sense to us.

I guess my point is that we hardly ever know the full story. What that kid who commented on my piece doesn’t know about me is that I have a disease that makes me use too many exclamation points (not true). And maybe the author of the bestseller I was reading was really influenced by her editor and publisher. Maybe they made her cut her story into nothing but plot and dialogue.

For the brave ones: when did you judge or criticize someone too quickly?

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