It started like this: "As a teacher, I applaud you. Not only for your stance, but also for letting me know that you are called 'Michiganders.'" This was the reply I made to Michigan's governor, Gretchen Whitmer when she tweeted "I want to make this clear — I will not send our kids and our education workforce into our schools unless it is safe to do so, plain and simple. I have made decisions based on science and facts to keep Michiganders safe since the beginning, and won’t stop now." I honestly did not believe that I was walking into the belly of a beast. Not Governor Whitmer, but her critics.
Let me preface the rest of this piece by saying that the "likes" I got for making that bold assertion of mine have far outweighed the negatives. The machine that is Twitter, however, doesn't allow for thumbs down, so if you disagree you have to make a direct reply. Like the user who is referenced by "Cancel Culture Is A Cancer For Culture" who replied to me, "Yeah, I would applaud a 1 year paid vacation to." This is where my better nature escaped me and I tossed back, "As a teacher, I suppose I should point out that you probably meant 'too.' But maybe that's beside the point." At this point, I felt like we had both had our petty back and forth. I was wrong. There was still plenty of grist of the mill. "McSnipe" shot back, "Well apparently the public schooling failed him. You're doing such a bang up job. School of choice should be mandatory" which caught me in a mood that brought forth my response, "Only if they teach that putting a punctuation mark at the end of a sentence is not a choice." And this is where I was called a "Grammar Nazi." Which is a label I would rather not have applied to me, but I suppose that the grammar portion of that shoe probably fits. The next bit was the part that set me off on a couple days of soul-searching. The same reply that named me a Grammar Nazi went on to call me an "ugly, hateful putz."
Which is about the time that I felt I needed to push away from the keyboard. I wasn't involved in banter anymore. This was bickering. I could taste the difference, and I did not care for it. From there the comments became much more sweeping but still directed at me, suggesting that I was "indoctrinating" children and teaching them to hate white people. Others wanted to know which school I worked for so they could be certain that their children would not end up in my class. The following day the stream had been reduced to a trickle, but I was still getting notices on my timeline that someone else was ready to take their shot at me. Inevitably, following these links back landed me on pages full of alt-right conspiracies and hate. The fear and anger that I had been smelling on the replies to my tweet was on full display there.
And it shook me. The way my correcting someone's grammar could bring on such hostility. Or maybe, given the current state of our great nation, I shouldn't be surprised at all. And that's sad.
So am I.