Harmful or Helpful? This Instagram Account Is Policing People’s Grammar!

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drawn by: JUICE illustrator, kkkkkiddddd

It’s hurt lah to see grammatical errors run amuck on social media on a daily basis. For a very long time, I thought I was the only one that cringed internally whenever I saw the omnipresent misuse of tenses and incorrect spelling, but the birth of this Instagram account has proven that many more walk amongst us grammar nazis. However, I personally feel like the admin of @englishbusters is our supreme leader.

source: englishbusters/Instagram

After their recent spike in fame due to going viral on Twitter, @englishbusters now sits at 87.6K followers on Instagram with over 90 posts. Labelled as an education account, this Indonesian grammar police sifts through the many celebrity posts to find grammatical errors as well as incorrect spelling. Their bio is, “Making Indonesian influencers learn better English, one caption at a time.”

When I first discovered this account I thought, “Ah, not all heroes wear capes,” and had quite a laugh at the expense of all the influencers featured on the page. As I scrolled further and read the captions, I gradually felt a pang of discomfort before I reached an epiphany. Maybe this account isn’t helping. Maybe it’s actually harming the way we educate one another.

Granted, most captions penned by the admin are educational but some are just downright condescending and not in an enjoyable way. Here are a few examples.



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…what. Keep it Indonesian for your own good brotha @young_lex18. #EnglishBusters

A post shared by English Busters Indonesia 🇲🇨 (@englishbusters) on



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No, me no think me flower. I’ll let you guys fix this one yourselves. @diantyy.a is busted. #EnglishBusters

A post shared by English Busters Indonesia 🇲🇨 (@englishbusters) on

They have even received backlash on their captions, causing them to edit or take the original post down. For example:

There are a plethora of other variations of these snide captions on their page and I’ll let you check those out yourself. The point I am substantiating is that shaming someone for their mistake does not encourage growth, but instead perpetuates the culture of shunning and ostracisation. And what happens when someone is constantly harassed? They become bitter which ultimately leads to stagnancy and a reluctance to learn.

Take it from me. I have experienced my fair share of language shaming. Please, bear with me while I share this personal anecdote.

Me in kindergarten. How can you bully this face??

I regret to announce that I could not speak a word of Bahasa Malaysia despite my Malay race, when I was in primary school. It was not out of faux superiority, I can assure you. It was genuinely because I was raised in an English-speaking household with English books filling the shelves. So I exclusively spoke the language of the mat salleh and of course, with kids being mean-spirited, I was bullied to the point of silence. I would not speak unless a teacher asked a question and I did not have any friends.

Language shaming robbed me of the opportunity to enjoy the feeling of inclusivity and friendship. Language shaming has caused me to look back on those times in anger (sorry Oasis) and whenever I speak of my years in primary school, I taste the bitterness on my tongue and feel the weight of hate for the people who rendered me mute.

It took me years to swallow my pride and take their vitriol in stride. Now, I dah pandai sembang lah and I have befriended (or buat member- okay that’s enough of that) my fellow Malay brothers and sisters. It takes a while to realise that you’ve been in a crossfire with people you’re supposed to be on the same team with when you’re blinded by trauma and vengeance.

But that was an isolated situation that only I and the people at my school knew about. Imagine being an influencer, publicly trying to master a relatively difficult language for self-betterment and being shamed to kingdom come by an anonymous grammar nazi who hides behind the faćade of education. To add salt to injury, the culture of bandwagoning is prominent within the comments section and users even go as far as to call these influencers stupid for their lack of grammatical prowess.

When everyone is looking at you and your brain turns to mush. (source: amysyeera.com)

In actuality, someone’s proficiency in English does not determine their level of intelligence. On the contrary, if you feel like like you have the right to judge someone’s intelligence through their grammar then you need to check your superiority and get your head out your own ass. Facts!

To conclude, yes, initially @englishbusters was entertaining to me and even helpful to others but I know how it feels like to try your hardest to speak around people who want to silence you with their laughter. So, cut them some slack and let’s educate the community instead of patronising them.

For more opinionated reads, click here.

Main image and illustration done by JUICE illustrator, kkkkkiddddd.

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