I’m all for vigorous debate. If I write something you think is bullshit, I want your criticism. The resulting discussion means we walk away a little smarter.
But if all you want to do is show how smart you are and how stupid the other person is, you’re not being a good debater or critic, you’re just being a peever
And nobody likes a peever.
As a longtime writer and editor, I’ve found no better example of peevery than the folks who equate a misplaced comma or misspelled word with stupidity.
I’m not talking about the folks who calmly reach out to you to let you know you’ve made a typo. It may be uncomfortable for the recipient, but the feedback is coming from a polite, neighborly place.
I’m talking about the people who have stylistic preferences. If you don’t follow their gospel to the letter, they go crazy and blast you on Facebook and Twitter for being grammatically impure. I’m talking about those who bash you publicly for the garden-variety typos. For them, it’s not enough to simply point out that you’ve put a comma in the wrong place. They have to berate you for slipping up because, you know, you’re a professional and mistakes are unprofessional.
Of course, you don’t have to be a writer or editor to be a peever.
People who tear down others online over their political beliefs are peevers. People who publicly judge others over their life choices are peevers. People who get self-righteous over other people’s posts are peevers.
To be fair, I think many of us have had our moments as peevers. I certainly have. For example, I really hate all those pre-written, self-righteous Facebook posts. One example:
I was RAISED, I didn’t just grow up. I was taught to speak when I enter a room, say Please & Thank you, to have Respect for my elders, lend a helping hand to those in need, hold the door for the person behind me, say Excuse me when it’s needed, & to Love people for who they are, not for what you can get from them! I was also taught to treat people the way I want to be treated! If you were raised this way too, please re-post this…sadly, many won’t, because they weren’t, and it shows~Thank you
One day, I told Erin I was going to write a post flaming all those stupid sayings.
“Tell me what that has to do with OCD?” she asked, giving me that stare she gives me when she’s certain that I’m full of shit.
“It’s a trigger,” I said, not really meaning it.
“It’s not a trigger. It’s a peeve. You going to go pet it now?” she asked, still giving me that stare.
I was being a peever, and she called me out on it.
None of us are perfect. We all say and write stupid things sometimes. When someone else does it, we should cut them some slack and, as needed, privately offer feedback.
Remember: Flaming people in public doesn’t make you useful. It just makes you a peever.
No one likes a peever.