07 February 2007

The Art of Commentary

Conversation is dead. In fairness, it was never looking too good to begin with, always so thin and anemic, not infrequently foaming about the mouth. Commentary, on the other hand, is alive and well and only looking more robust thanks to the proliferation of forums and blogs on the interwebs. Following are a number of helpful tips for making comments, not only online, but in every aspect of life:
  1. Commentary information has a hierarchy of value. Useless opinions and unsupported assumptions outrank uncited statistics, which beat alleged facts, which are better than faulty logic, which is still superior to any form of meaningful interaction, insightful critique, or thoughtful dialogue. Of course, a grammatically questionable movie or rock music misquote trumps all.

  2. Ad hominem arguments are usually frowned upon in conversation or debate. Keep in mind that you're no interlocutor here. Personal abuse is encouraged, and the less wit involved, the better, as exemplified by the common but effective: "OMG!!! ur so stoopid!!!!"

  3. Tell, don't show. Commenting on something gives it meaning where it had none to begin with. If you authored a particular post, an explanation of what you really meant in the comments will help your readers understand what you so artfully obscured in your intial offering. If someone else authored a post, remember that you have the authority to accurately explain what another person meant. Texts do not speak for themselves; they require explanation, and that is the heart of commentary.

  4. Never stay silent. The only commentary worth ignoring is the commentary not made. Your comments should be prolix and numerous to prove the worth of your opinions. Unmounted soapboxes make not a change in the hearts of humankind. I'm not sure who said that, but I'm merely demonstrating an additional application of point 1.

  5. Never stay silent. This point is worth repeating. And I'd like to explain what I meant the first time. Nobody wants to hear something important directly. For example, I don't want to read the Bible as God's Word and hear it as such. I want somebody else to tell me what it means. That sort of commentary is essential to make. I, in turn, should tell others what I think the Bible (or any other text) means. Another good example is advertising. I don't want to judge the merits of a product, I want to be told to buy it. How am I supposed to know what to spend money on unless companies comment on their products?

  6. A picture is worth a thousand words, but an emoticon is worth a thousand pictures. People always talk of the importance of body language. Consider emoticons digital body language. Think of the amount of expression avaiable to you in only a few keystrokes!

  7. Lists will make everything clear. People love them, and you'll look smarter for your ability to organize your thoughts into convenient segments.

Now go and comment! Your insights can only improve and clarify the mediocre content we've all been longing for so desperately.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I do like lists. For, like a well-constructed newspaper article, you can read the first few words of each paragraph and still get the gist of it, even if you don't read the whole thing.

I think emoticons were fun for a while, and then they were gauche, and now they're back to being cool again. Everything in moderation.