OK so we all make grammar mistakes. We type “its” rather than “it’s.” But we cringe when a bus drives by with Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s latest slogan “Live Fearless!” It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. In her book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Lynne Truss provides a diagnosis:
We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation. Whisper it in petrified little-boy tones: dead punctuation is invisible to everyone else — yet we see it all the time. No one understands us seventh-sense people. They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to “get a life” by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves. Naturally we become timid about making our insights known, in such inhospitable conditions. Being burned as a witch is not safely enough off the agenda.
Now Steven Fry, a master wordsmith, really tells us to “get a life”: