I enjoy blogs. I enjoy MySpace. I enjoy Facebook. I enjoy these new internet distractions. I always have. I like this strange new arena for connecting and sharing and amusing and informing.
And then I come across developments like this . . .
There's a Facebook group out there called "I judge you when you use poor grammar." I see it and I think, "Oh, well I'm definitely joining that group." Because I do judge you. But then I go to the group and I see that there have been articles written about this group. News articles. About this frivolous, pointless, just-for-fun group. And I am immediately turned off. Do I like this group? Yes. Do I want to see articles about it in the Law Blog of the Wall Street Journal of all things? Saying, "And what a group it is." As though it's just come to their attention that one can create a group about anything. Of course over 200,000 people have joined, Wall Street Journal. We, the people of the United States, will join any group, on any social networking site, so long as it a) amuses us for even one second and b) is free. How on earth is this a revelation to you? Or how about an article in the motherfucking New York Times Style section?! The New York Times! I don't know about everyone else, but I find it disconcerting when articles in the NY Times are akin to having some dude you know forward you a YouTube video he found funny.
I do not direct my anger toward Sharon Nichols, the creator of the group. Nay. That would be unfair and mean-spirited. Hell, when the New York Times is asking you for an interview, you give it. You give it to the nth. She started a silly group, which she is aware is silly. My anger is directed toward these news outlets. Why? Why are you writing about Facebook groups? Are you kidding? This is not news, the idea that people are irritated by bad grammar. This is not something new and exciting and worthy of noting.
That phrase, "Nothing to write home about," that applies here. If it is not something I feel is worth mentioning in a phone conversation with my mother, why are you putting it in the Style section? I would never in a million years have thought to phone and say, "Oh, my heavens! Oh, Mother! Ready yourself for an impossibly novel anecdote. Okay, there is this group. It is on Facebook, a social networking site. Are you still with me? And it is for people to share their mutual dislike of common grammar mistakes! Can you even believe it?! Can you believe someone thought to do such a thing? And there are T-shirts! There are T-shirts with - oh, get a load of this delicious bit of fun! - the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES' FACE on them! You can wear T-SHIRTS that MOCK THE PRESIDENT! Have you ever heard of such a delightful, snarky bit of tomfoolery? Oh, it is so very unique that I just HAD to tell you about it!"***
Yet that is what these articles are saying. They are saying, "America, this came to my attention and I immediately thought of you." And, in fact, that's all they're saying. They're not using that as a jumping off point for the article. That's really as far as they're taking it. No substantial commentary on it. Nope. It's going no deeper than, "Hey, get a load of this, you guys." And I was getting a load of it just fine by myself. If I were to make a group so people could post the craaaaazy dream they had last night, would you write an article about that? That's equally universal and pointless, so how 'bout it, Journalism?
Furthermore, the Style section, NY Times? At least the Wall Street Journal put it in their Law Blog (which, fine, Sharon Nichols is a law student, so . . . fine, I guess there's a connection there and a blog is generally expected to be more frivolous than a full-out article). However, you, NY Times, put it in, bizarrely, the Fashion & Style section? Okay, did someone write the piece, bring it in, and then you just didn't know where to put it? Or were there so few celebrities and/or socialites out in the world that day that you felt compelled to find your writing inspiration in Facebook? Had you really exhausted your options to such an alarming degree? Surely someone somewhere was wearing something designed by somebody. Not that I want to read about that either, but at least it's what your section is FOR. Have you so many people on your staff that you run out of things to write about in a single day? I would vote that you cull the herd before you go on churning out more journalistic feats such as these. Also, the title of the article "Your Modifier Is Dangling" (much as I do applaud that title) has been put under the heading, "The Age of Dissonance." Let's take a look at the meaning of "dissonance."
1 a: lack of agreement; especially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one's actions and one's beliefs, b: an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement
2: a mingling of discordant sounds; especially : a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord
Beyond the fact that you're employing a very pretentious heading for what ends up being an unbearably trivial article, here's the thing: I don't see how this is a fitting heading . . . unless you were being dramatically ironic, because you know what seems dissonant to me? AN ARTICLE ABOUT A FACEBOOK GROUP IN A REPUTABLE NEWSPAPER.
***I think I was hearing Paul F. Tompkins' voice in my head when I wrote this paragraph.