In the comments to some video of The White Stripe’s “Seven Nation Army,” someone typed the word “then” like “den,” which really irritated another poster, whose reply was: “*then. It’s one more fucking letter and it doesn’t make you sound like a retard.”

A number of questions arose for me, and I’ll utilize the admittedly non-PC language already in use here. Is it substantially less “retarded” to correct spelling and grammar mistakes on a Youtube video and to call other people — most certainly strangers — “retarded”? This would strike me as perhaps socially retarded behavior, which seems prevalant on the internet. Personally, I would say people with social disabilities come off sounding worse than people with real (or alleged) mental ones (though it’s all sort of mental). But am I also being unfair or “retarded” in noting this? Should I also just let this go?

Well, there’s a trend on the internet where, if someone corrects another’s mistake(s), the person making the correction will go on about how superior they are, until the arrogance meter is off the charts. For a personal example, I recently posted a Youtube video in a serial killer forum because I found it interesting. The video title had the word “serial killer” in it, yet the video content mentioned nothing about the kidnapper (Cameron Hooker) being a serial killer. That being true, I simply stated, “Ignore the title about ‘the serial killer.’ This guy apparently isn’t. He is still a sick bastard, though.” I was promptly corrected and informed that Hooker is a suspected serial killer, due to the man’s wife confessing that he had killed somebody. Being corrected by itself is fine, but one of the people correcting me put it like this: ” Because all documentaries cover every aspect about a given case… that’s a poor assumption to make. Always read and watch multiple sources for the most knowledge into a case.” I’ve been thinking about that comment for days now, alternating between being somewhat pissed and somewhat perplexed (I’m a bit of a perfectionist, even though I’m apparently wrong all the time).

His implication is that I should be expected to heavily research every little aspect of a true crime related link. Well, that’s fine if I’m publishing a book on the guy, but if I’m just sharing a 45 minute video on the internet, should I really be expected to spend perhaps hours of additional time investigating all claims about such a person? And the tone of the guy’s comment just oozed feelings of superiority, as if I were being talked down to like a child, and like I really needed it. I also got the sense that this guy never makes such mistakes — that he is totally above human error and smarter than me in all ways. He is totally incapable of omitting information from his posts, thoroughly researches everything, and outperforms me in every way, I guess. Maybe we’re all guilty of this arrogant tone from time to time, but it really made me think of how useless human experience and supposed wisdom can seem. If all we accomplish half the time is making others feel stupid when we assert our superiority, it can seem a bit retarded — both socially and mentally.

I did respond to him, though, like this: “I wasn’t writing a research project on the guy. Just watched a 45 minute video on him which didn’t mention serial killing, yet the title itself did. Easily explained, and the video apparently got deleted in any case. I’m sorry if that makes me a complete moron in your eyes. I will look into every single source available on a known or alleged serial killer from now on, and spend hours researching so I can garner your approval.”

Apparently it went over his head (which got my own feelings of superiority back), because he responded: “Good plan, Wainio. Too many sources available to have to rely on only one. Glad you’re learning.”

Glad I’m learning, indeed.