And, in what is sure to be a surprise to most of you, I am not talking about any particular stupidity on the internet.
No, this is a tendency I have to beat down with large sticks in myself on the regular.
Like a lot of my fellow Nerds, I can be a bit of a pedant.
I try to keep it inside my head.
But I’m not always successful.
Part of it is that I don’t realize I’m being a pedant. What happens is someone says something that is misinformed, or wrong, and I’ll feel the urge to correct them.
It’s a strong urge. I have on occasion had to excuse myself from rooms, parties, and even entire buildings until I can settle my shit down.
I have in fact been that person from the XKCD “Someone is WRONG on the internet!” comic.
I’m mostly better, and can usually restrain myself to here, my spaces.
And I’ll be honest, at least for me the urge to pedant doesn’t come from a place of showing off, or proving superiority, not anymore. Mostly it’s a case of just being passionate about something, and seeing an opening to have a “conversation” about it.
I put conversation in scare quotes there, because often when I get going, it’s not a conversation. It’s a lecture. I have been known to encroach on nearby white boards.
I know where it comes from. For myself, it’s because so much of my identity my entire life has been wrapped up in being “the smart one.” And I imagine it’s the same for many of you.
The thing is, no one likes to be corrected. No one. And if you really, actually must correct someone, as in it meets one of the criteria below, then find a way to do it discreetly and quietly. Take the person aside. Email them without CC-ing the entire office including their boss.
And for the love of all the gods, don’t gloat.
I’ve developed a few tips for myself to stop the pedantry before it starts.
1. Does it matter?
Sadly, my answer to this is frequently yes.
2. DOES IT REALLY FUCKING MATTER IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS?
Is it a business correspondence? Is it cover letter for a job? Is it an assignment for a grade or money? Is it a fucking deposition?
If the answer to all of those questions is “No,” then keep your mouth shut.
If yes, see above about being discreet
Or, if it is in the context of a game, “Is this piece being wrong going to impact the experience for my players?”
Again, if the answer is no, then just keep going.
Yes, I’m telling you to shut down your inner rules lawyer.
I can think of at least one instance where I wanted to add a character trait to a character that wasn’t strictly in the rules regarding that race/class build, but I thought it would add a little color to my character sheet, and I had the extra points to throw away on something that would never mechanically benefit me.
Someone in the group was horrified that I would do that, and was convinced I had found a way to game the system, and threw a fit until the GM disallowed it.
As someone who views your character sheet as a love letter to the GM telling them what you want out of the experience, all I wanted was the descriptor on the sheet. I wanted to put it there expressly so that the GM could fuck with me with it, with no intent to use it to my advantage ever.
That was definitely a case of “Did it really fucking matter?”
Also in that game, we were so fucking over-powered it was ridiculous. Like we needed any minuscule advantage I might have been able to finagle that into.
So, yeah. Before you “Well, actually…” someone into hating you, regardless of the genders of those involved, think about if it’s really necessary.
Also, consider if they actually said what you think they said, or if you misheard.
That happens. The reason that people fuck up the phrase “For all intents and purposes” and use “for all intensive purposes,” (Oh, that gives me an eye-twitch just mentioning it) is because they’ve likely misheard it in speech.
Consider that you may also be capable of mishearing things.
Like I said above, if your job, life, or grades don’t depend on it, for the most part, you can let it go.
Does anyone actually fucking care that the Bucky in the comics and the Bucky in the MCU are wildly divergent?
Well, you guys.
But out in the wild word, at work? Probably fucking not. I usually give people an out.
“It’s interesting how they wrote Bucky in the movies, and I can talk about that stuff all day, but I won’t bore you.”
If they’re interested, they’ll ask you to continue. If they let it drop, let it go.
Then go home and blog for an hour about how they conflated two characters in comics canon to create the MCU Bucky.
That’s what I do.