People who make typos on porpoise always have an agenda.
Have you noticed an uptick in the number of high-profile typos lately? We’re editors by trade, so we may be a little biased, but it feels as though official Twitter accounts are making weekly headlines for their typos. It’s happening so often that it begs the question whether people are making typos on purpose. Why would someone do that? We’ll count down the four most sinister reasons people intentionally make a typo.
If you want your critics to listen to you, write a tweet with a typo.
1. Attract Traffic
If you want your fans to listen to you, write them a tweet. If you want your critics to listen to you, write a tweet with a typo.
The internet loves to shame mistakes. If you publish a typo, people will inevitably respond. You’ll earn comments. Some of those comments will include links. People will share your message on social media. If your error is egregious enough, then the internet may produce brand new content to mock your mistake. Links to your content, additional traffic, and active comments may even give you a boost in SEO.
Attracting traffic is a simple motive; there are more conspiratorial reasons to mistype.
2. Project (False) Authenticity
Some time ago, it was in vogue for students to include a typo or two in their college applications. The idea was to show admissions departments that you have a real personality. Being perfectly polished can feel inauthentic, but including a typo or two is a gambit that can make you seem authentic.
But it isn’t authentic, is it?
Polishing up your content to perfection, and then introducing some mistakes, is branding. It’s weaving a false narrative intended to create an emotional response in the reader. The typo is intended to create a special kind of trust. The reader incorrectly assumes that the author is writing from the heart without self-editing. To some readers, this perceived authenticity makes the writer more believable and trustworthy. Unfortunately, those readers believe a lie.
3. Make a Backhanded Statement
It’s an old trick. Sabotage a message you disagree with by including a typo. The typo distracts readers from the message and invites ridicule.
The strategy works because typos are easy to repudiate. It’s difficult for others to prove that you mistyped something on purpose.
Using typos to make a backhanded statement has two sides, though. A hero can undermine an villainous message, but a villain can also undermine something positive.
4. Deflect Attention
Sometimes people want to deflect attention away from news that damages their reputation. Writing a marginally embarrassing typo, or committing some other minor but amusing gaffe, can distract the public with news that doesn’t matter while real issues go underreported. Eventually, the significant story is forgotten altogether.
This is the most insidious typo ploy because it allows people to avoid accountability. Genuine critics waste their efforts on decrying grammar rather than calling out injustice.
The next time someone in authority writes a typo, dig a little deeper in the news to see if there is another more menacing story buried beneath the popular discourse.
Are Intentional Typos Okay?
Viral typos can be a short-term attention grab. If they’re humorous and innocent, then perhaps there’s a place for them somewhere in the marketing world. Also, if you are in a position to fight tyranny with a well-placed typo, then maybe that is ethical as well. (Who doesn’t want to be a world-changing grammarian?)
However, intentional typos are risky. We are not brave enough to recommend that anyone write typos on purpose. Poorly executed typo gimmicks are easy to spot, they’re duplicitous, and they can backfire easily. History shows us that simply writing well achieves better long-term results than even the most well-executed typo schemes.
What are you trying to accomplish with your writing? We can help you with that.