In which I yell at kids to get off my lawn (apparently)

I started writing some lighter pieces for a South African women’s site. In my latest, I list some things I think we need to stop saying – in cyber- and meatspace – such as “That’s just your opinion”, “Just saying”, etc, and why.

I’ve already thought of more, such as discussions of the weather and hating plotholes in narrative fiction. I want to develop this latter one into a longer post though.

Any others I’ve left out or that you disagree with?

Many think I’m grumpy for this list, which is strange: I think I justified my reasons. It’s not me being irritated with humans, etc. – that factor is irrelevant (even if true).

(I should inform you that the site is notorious for awful comments, ranking alongside YouTube in terms of toxicity levels. Luckily, it requires magical Facebook powers to comment so I’m unable to.)


  1. Jacob Schmidt says

    I’ll talk about my dreams all I want, thank you very much. Some of us do like such idle chatter, from time to time.

    If I’m wrong, why would I take seriously someone swearing at me?

    Better question: If the person calling me an ignorant shitweasel has ripped apart my argument, why should I dismiss that on the basis of rude language? You should take them seriously if they have a good argument. A good argument is a good argument, peppered with objectionable language or not.

    I’m under no obligation to listen to you when you’ve conveyed no sense of wanting to treat me with some measure of respect.

    You’re under no obligation to listen to me ever, so my swearing changes nothing.

    Or, at the very least, you can be creative in your hatred.

    This is what convinces me that most detestation of swearing is merely arbitrary. You’re against me using certain words to show disdain and contempt, but you encourage me to show it in other ways. I’m still showing contempt. I’m still showing disrespect. I’m still not conveying “[any] sense of wanting to treat [you] with some measure of respect.” Yet when that message is conveyed without the bad words, you’re ok with it. It’s not disrespect you don’t like, it’s the words themselves.

    These arguments I find truly annoying. The most disgusting things can be said in the most civil of tongues. Civility has no special property that stops one from being dehumanizing, sexist, racist, or all around despicable. It doesn’t change anything.

  2. machintelligence says

    How about “That’s just a strawman”, unless it really is a strawman. The phrase is often used as a cheap way to dismiss out of hand an argument that is perfectly valid.

  3. Jacob Schmidt says

    How about “That’s just a strawman”, unless it really is a strawman.

    YES. Also claiming “ad hominem.” Generally misusing fallacies altogether.

  4. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    If I’m wrong, why would I take seriously someone swearing at me?

    When I am really out for blood on an issue, I become excruciatingly polite, with nothing that could be construed as an obscenity or a personal attack. Because they can’t say “she’s being rude” or “wow, how insulting”. They can’t use the usual filters, they can’t justify being angry. they have to deal with the facts you handed them.

    Here’s a bit from an e-mail, responding to a scathing but impeccably factual and polite review:
    “My human instinct tells me to refute your statements, and to defend myself and my company. Unfortunately, your review is truthful, and on top of that, you really didn’t personally attack me, or use any hurtful words or call any names. So I can’t be angry with you, I can only be angry with, and disappointed in, myself.

    It turned into a productive disciussion of how to improve the service at little to no cost. Win-win!

  5. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    On dreams: I thought that section started off OK (no, your dreams are not of some mystical significance to the world), but it rather seemed to turn into “No one should ever talk about dreams for any reason,” i.e., entertainment value.

    Something you’ve left out? Prefixing anything at all with “cyber”. Because it is frequently meaningless, a pointless distinction from things “not-cyber”, and the word is largely used incorrectly in the first place.

    Also a vote for #3 “ad hominem” used incorrectly, especially if followed by “attack”.

  6. says

    Your dreams are always very interesting to yourself, and almost always massively uninteresting to anyone else.

    “I was riding in a car with my pet monkey that I apparently had in the dream, only it was more like a lizard sometimes… then suddenly it was my brother and we went to the mall, and the Orange Julius was selling leather HANDBAGS! I know, crazy right?”