One side effect of being a writer for the web is that people forget that there is actually a person behind what is being written, and they feel free to just flood my inbox with crazy rants and dumb comments and unsolicited advice. After a particularly rough couple weeks, I’ve decided to post a few of my biggest verbal pet peeves.
1) Saying, “Not to tell you how to do your job, but xxxxxxxxxx.”
Just because you announce ahead of time that you’re not going to tell me how to do my job doesn’t cancel out the fact that you are actually doing that very thing. I received the following e-mail yesterday from a random doctor in Massachusetts regarding an article I wrote: “I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but isn’t blind regurgitation of other news exactly the kind of thing HuffPo was founded to combat?”
No, we regurgitate news all the time, we have a huge website and only 5 reporters on staff. I proudly regurgitated that news and linked out to the original article and video broadcast because that is the part of my job that you are not aware of.
If I wasn’t actually representing the organization I work for, I would have written him back and said, “I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but do you think that heart surgery you performed the other day was really necessary, or were you just trying to make a couple bucks? C’mon, be honest.”
2) Asking me if I want some “unsolicited advice,” and then proceeding to give it to me even if I say no or don’t answer at all.
“Want some unsolicited advice on your blog?”
“Never use your personal life as a shield in response to your comments.”
…Wait! I never agreed to receive that advice! Why did you go out of your way to ask if I wanted it when you were just planning to give it to me anyway?
3) Saying “No offense” or “With all due respect” before blatantly offending or disrespecting someone.
“No offense, but that article was crap.” Wow, I’m really glad you told me ahead of time not to take offense, otherwise I might have cried myself to sleep. No offense, but that thing you painted and gave me for my birthday is actually the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen. I’d rather hang a dead squirrel on my wall.
4) Saying “literally” when you mean the opposite.
This is the worst. “My boss LITERALLY makes my blood boil.”
What? Pass me a thermometer so I can check that out, cause it sounds like you should be dead right now. Oh, did you mean figuratively? Because “literally” and “figuratively” are actually ANTONYMS.
“Thank God you showed up, I was so hungry I was literally about to eat my arm.”
If you were literally about to barbeque your own limb and chow down on it, then it sounds like like you’ve got more problems than a hamburger can fix, know what I mean?
5) When people confuse “less” with “fewer.”
This wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that people do it all the time, and I feel like I want to correct them but I can’t without being really obnoxious.
“Less” should precede a singular amount of a substance, like sugar or air or sadness. This pasta needs less salt. I have less separation anxiety than my psychotic dog. There is significantly less air in this balloon than there was before I popped it.
“Fewer” precedes a plural number of things, like fries or shoes or crying tantrums. I have fewer emails in my inbox now that I deleted all the ones that pissed me off. There are fewer reasons to punch you in the face now that you stopped saying “no offense” before offending me.
And that’s it for today. Thanks for listening, I feel much better.
What are your peeves?