Spelling mistakes are like beauty marks
At the start of 2023, I set out a goal for myself: I want to unapologetically allow myself as many spelling (and grammar) mistakes as I can professionally permit. If you haven’t totally submitted into blind rage or have been deeply & personally insulted by the sheer audacity, you might find yourself asking why.
Against the grain of popular belief, I think we love mistakes. Especially when others make them. If mistakes tell us one thing, it’s that perfection is unattainable. Moreover, I would dare say it’s an ill-advised endeavour. Some mistakes come, in the shape of a misplaced comma. Others in the form of a honest spelling mistake. If you didn’t notice my last mistake in the previous sentence, you’re probably the type of person who effortlessly finds peace, but if you’re more like me, you were probably already looking for it, because peace feels more like an itchy sweater made out of wool that only really works when you sit completely still.
I digress, the great thing about mistakes is that they can be turned into stories: A scar tells the story of a memory. A beauty mark tells the story of acceptance and a dirty t-shirt tells the story of a delicious meal. just like a plain white tee, a perfect sentence or paragraph doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s like it is hiding the deeply flawed human behind it and that just feels like wasted opportunity.
Speaking about deeply flawed humans, being flawed just might become one of the most valuable assets we possess. We live in a time where artificial intelligence is becoming more and more capable of copying what we’ve been doing for years and spoiler alert: it does it quite well. But there’s one thing it just doesn’t seem to get right yet, and that’s being wrong. Being perfect is a computer’s job, and if we don’t want it to take ours, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from theirs. But pissing of AI is not the only reason. Our little mistakes, mishaps and typos are slowly but surely turning into the new real estate, everlasting increasing in value. Where first you couldn’t afford yourself a spelling mistake without the inevitable shame of computer-like individuals, it will now intuitively start to serve as proof of your unmistakable humanity.
I, a humble copywriter, word player, linguistic thinker and serial spelling offender, urge all linguists, teachers, writers and perfectionists alike, to embrace our mistakes. Not because we don’t respect the language or the craft we all share, but because the future demands us to judge on the value of substance, not perfection.