We’d thought we’d seen the final form of the Reply Guy — the online dude always responding to your tweets in hopes of cementing an unwanted relationship with you. You know, the kind of guy concerned about your 1-percent phone battery, the kind of guy fixated on “objective” debating and the kind of guy determined to adore you over DM. And so, there didn’t seem to be any new ways dudes (and sometimes gals) could beg for attention in your mentions. In fact, just a month ago, my colleague Miles Klee wrote an article for this very site entitled, “There Are No More Replies for Reply Guys to Try.”
But alas, here we are again. Thus, my lordes and laydes, I must unfortunately introduce you to the Spellcheck Reply Guys.
Spellcheck Reply Guys just want to remind you that it’s “they’re” and not “their,” use phrases like “per APA style” and give your tweet a “slight editorial tweak.” They’re Twitter’s version of a teacher’s pet, feeling duty-bound to knock a stranger down for grammatical errors while uplifting themselves as intellectually superior.
Writer Desi Jedeikin, who recently got to the bottom of the Reply Gal, experienced her first Spellcheck Reply Guy in 2018. She says most of them know that they’re being pedantic, but that they still need to shoot their smarty-pants load. “They don’t have anything important to add, so they’ll find the one thing they can be part of the conversation about,” she tells me. “They’re aware that they’re annoying but they can’t help themselves.”
Basically, then, these spellcheck warriors think they’re helping you out. They don’t want you to look bad, so they’re here to casually fix your error. Except there’s a difference between DMing a friend about a bad tweet and publicly putting a stranger on the digital guillotine — like I was recently for misspelling “waver.” It’s the grammatical version of saying “I’m just being honest” when you could have simply stayed quiet and not been an intellectual asshole.
Case in point: When writer Saeed Jones recently misspelled Louvre while hyping up a photo of Roxane Gay, a Spellcheck Reply Guy quickly swooped in. By doing so, they showed far too much interest in grammar and far too little in the point of the tweet — giving Gay her due (and therefore, robbing her of her moment). Not to mention, to Jones at least, misspellings are simply the cost of doing business on a platform meant for spur-of-the-moment reactions and extemporaneous thinking. “Typos are embarrassing,” he explains. “But I’ve made my peace with them being part of Twitter. So highlighting someone else’s typo demonstrates a misunderstanding of the medium.”
Now there is a version of the Grammar Reply Guy that I can condone — and hope to see more of. Whereas Spellcheck Reply Guys are antagonistic, You Misspelled… Guys that reject the characterization of someone are knowingly satirical. Some great examples:
These guys know Twitter is at its best when not taken seriously. So stop replying to stranger’s tweets with your self-serious corrections. You’re not our editors. Nor are we getting paid to tweet. You hear that, Spellcheck Reply Guys? Oh, I’m sorry; I misspelled Pedantic Motherfuckers.