At Mind Your Language, we’ve always said that accuracy matters, no matter what the context. An error-laden rant from pop singer Justin Bieber reminds us that wealth and the adoration of thousands of teenage girls is of very little help when it comes to writing well.
Picture: Getty/Theo Wargo
Bieber has been attracting bad press in recent weeks following a visit to London in which he appeared on stage two hours late, suffered a medical scare and got into a fight with paparazzi. While Bieber is renowned for his use of Twitter (he has 36 million followers), 140 characters doesn’t cut it when you want to make a more detailed statement to your fans about how the media reports are unfair. Instead, Bieber used his Instagram account to post this horror:
Everyone in my team has been telling me, “keep the press happy” but I’m tired of all the countless lies in the press right now. Saying I’m going to rehab and how my family is disappointed in me. My family is beyond proud, and nothing’s been said by them, my grandparents wouldnt know how to reach to press even of they did want to so that was a lie and rehab cmon. if Anyone believes i need rehab thats their own stupidity lol I’m 19 with 5 number one albums, 19 and I’ve seen the whole world. 19 and I’ve accomplished more than I could’ve ever dreamed of, i’m 19 and it must be scary to some people to think that this is just the beginning. I know my talent level and i know i got my head on straight. i know who i am and i know who i’m not My messege is to to believe. My albums could be about anything but my messages have been to never say never and believe, not to believe in me but to believe in yourself .. I honestly don’t care if you don’t believe in me because I believe in me, my friends believe, my family believe, my fans believe, and look where that’s gotten me so far.. I’m writing this with a smile on my face and love in my heart. Letting u know first hand how I feel rather than have these story linger. I’m a good person with a big heart. And don’t think I deserve all this negative press I’ve worked my ass off to get where I am and my hard work doesn’t stop here… All this isn’t easy. I get angry sometimes. I’m human. I’m gonna make mistakes. In gonna grow and get better from them. But all the love from you guys overcomes the negativity. I love u. Thanks.
I have no idea if any of the stories circulating about Bieber are true. But one thing is clearly true: his own statement makes him sound like a moron. The endless spelling errors in the teenage fans responding to his comment are equally hideous. This is a world where apostrophes are forgotten diacritics and capitals are only for countries.
In issuing this, Bieber (and his team) would have known it would be picked up on by media worldwide. Under those circumstances, it’s astonishing just how many errors there are. Even if you make allowances for the casual style of social media and want to argue that the stream-of-consciousness style is more important than knowing how to spell ‘message’, it’s a train wreck. “These story linger? In gonna grow.” Someone show the boy a real word processor.
The lesson? As we’ve argued before, if you get into the habit of writing sloppily in one context, it will quickly overflow. Bieber himself will probably never be in a situation where he has to avoid mistakes in a job application. His equally-grammar-shy teenage fans will almost all end up in that situation. Accuracy matters.
Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.