In India, English as a language has never been just a colonial relic. From lingua franca, it swiftly became a tool to hierarchize society. On social media, this happened with the ascent of “grammar Nazis" and the language is now often weaponized in demarcating class. The latest addition to the list of English-stickler is The Minimalist co-founder Sahil Vaidya. However, his classist joke on LinkedIn was met with backlash from other users who quickly called out his privileged and snooty take.
Vaidya, a Forbes 30 Under 30 awardee, attracted countless comments on the networking platform that pointed out in no uncertain terms that his post reeked of entitlement. LinkedIn users unanimously decided that the first thing that needed fixing in this scenario was Vaidya’s attitude.
One user asked Vaidya to fix his attitude and went on to point out grammatical errors in his post. They ended their comment by insisting that “as long as communication is lucid", there was no need for judgement in a “diverse and global economy".
A lot of other users harped on the same point and furthered the argument with other valid points. Their responses ranged from insisting that English was not a benchmark for the intellect to criticising Vaidya’s take in spite of being a Forbes 30 Under 30 awardee.
In fact, the discussion spilled over to Twitter, where a user shared a screengrab of Vaidya’s post and wrote “This guy got schooled on LinkedIn and how!!"
On this platform too, barring the stray naysayer, people agreed with the LinkedIn sentiment.
I’ve been working with Spanish, Chinese, French, Danish colleagues (including top mgmt) and their grammar is not that great. But in this country, the prime metric to judge intelligence is the fluency and immaculate grammar.— Vishal sharma (@Vishal_VS4) July 20, 2021
Users discussed the colonial hangover that persists in India, and pointed out a “subconscious subservience to colonialism".
It's a subconscious subservience to colonialism and the western culture that is still residual in our psyche which automatically establishes an intelligence hierarchy through fluency of English, or lack thereof. Unfortunately, none bats an eye if vernacular grammar is wrong.— Anik Mukherjee (@anikmukherjee93) July 20, 2021
Twitter users also criticised the conflation of linguistic abilities with overall intelligence.
Exactly languages are medium of expression not a measurement to intelligence.— sunita upadhyaya (@UpadhyayaSunita) July 21, 2021
Here too, the 30 Under 30 title attracted some mockery.
Looks like in his haste to be in the 30 under 30, he skipped some Grammar classes himself!— Trupz (@trupz) July 20, 2021
He got what he deserved, jokes apart it's so easy for some people to poke or criticize others without checking themselves out first . And as a matter of fact I dont see criticizing others as fun rather correct them .— Opeyemi 5( The popular nurse) (@Opeyemi510) July 20, 2021
A certain user criticised the oft-discussed LinkedIn culture where users are wont to project an ultra-successful and happy image of themselves.
LinkedIn is always a weird place where everyone is happy and achieving something constantly in their lives.— __anon_not_vile🔗🏹🚜 (@__anon_not_vile) July 20, 2021
And since it’s Twitter, of course, memes were made. The following one applauds the LinkedIn commenter who schooled Vaidya.
The original Twitter post by user Sritika Dhar now has 17,000 likes, over 2500 retweets and 188 quote tweets.