Monday, April 23, 2012

Johnny's Rule: Read Twice Before Commenting Once, Please Conduct All Your Internet Discussions Accordingly...

A soldier cuts linoleum in Afghanistan. The linoleum is being used as ROOFING MATERIAL. Photo and blog post by John Hoff

It happened again like it happens so often. A commenter on this blog fired off an angry response to one of my postings and, after reading what he/she wrote, I had to wonder...

Did this anonymous person actually READ what I said before they commented? Did they understand the facts presented before rhetorically vomiting all over the keyboard with a terribly flawed response that makes me want to reply, "Have you taken your Attention Deficit Disorder medication today, hmmmm? Because you really missed something."

There is an old proverb which goes, "Measure twice. Cut once." In other words, think and calculate carefully before you commit yourself to an action that can't be reversed. Did the anonymous poster do this before spitting up their hairball of a reply into the universe?

Obviously not, or...

...they wouldn't have made such a weak point. Click here for the original conversation.

The anonymous poster asks why I'm even posting this information about a woman arrested for prostitution and how does it have any impact on my "beloved turf" (of North Minneapolis) and makes mention of the fact there's "no location" listed for the incident.

In fact, let me quote the relevant portion of their comment, word-for-word:

"What is your point in providing her history, or even the arrest? As you stated yourself it may be old information and there's no location so who knows if it even impacts your 'beloved' turf."

Yeah, that's right. There's no location listed for the incident. That was my very last point in the blog post. Like so many people who don't think deeply, the commenter is responding off my very last point and ignoring my other points.

Heck, sometimes I even write blog posts that way on purpose, making my very last point to be whatever I want to generate the most discussion, or trying to PROVOKE discussion that way. (Click, for example, my recent post about an accused burglar where my last point is to compare him to dog crap)

But in regard to the blog posting about the arrested (alleged) prostitute, my last point was to say I don't know where the incident took place...hoping somebody might know and say something, or talk about how it was PROBABLY PENN AVENUE NORTH, or to speculate that, if she actually did what she's accused of, she probably did it close to where she reportedly lives at 3307 Girard Avenue North.

Yes, a close and careful reading of what I wrote makes mention of an address in North Minneapolis where the (alleged) hooker in question reportedly lives.

So anybody who wants to tell me how it doesn't impact my "beloved turf" would obviously need to address that relevant fact about the woman having North Minneapolis address on the jail roster. They'd have to say something like, "How do you know she really lives there, the roster might not be right." Because my point about not knowing the precise location referred to THE ALLEGED INCIDENT, not where the woman LIVED.

Ah, see. This is why ACTUALLY READING helps you understand better than JUST SKIMMING.

My anonymous critic might also make points like, "Even though she might live in North Minneapolis, if she's doing what she's allegedly doing in South Minneapolis, then this barely effects you at all. I notice you didn't post any other criminal history. Have some sympathy for this lost soul. Why don't you concentrate on ASSAULTS?"

Ah, now THAT would be a strong point and also address the fact there is a North Minneapolis address involved, clearly the kind of thing that's fodder for a (stomp, stomp) North Minneapolis blog.

But the anonymous commenter didn't make a point like that because, well, it seems pretty obvious their response was the result of not reading carefully and just plain MISSING SOMETHING IMPORTANT.

This happens all the time in internet discussions. Rather than sitting down with parchment paper and a quill, we have the ability to respond so quickly that, often, we don't take the time to think, "Am I getting this right? Or am I missing something in my peevish haste? Verily, let me look this over again before I say something STUPID."

As Goodwin's Law was constructed in an attempt to elevate internet conversation by stamping out STUPID HITLER ANALOGIES, and as Northside's Law was formulated to call out unprovable assertions of expertise or factual knowledge, so does Johnny's Rule seek to call b.s. on sloppy, fatally flawed discussion points that are the obvious result of not reading closely.

I call it a rule, not a law, because it's an observation, not a theory that empirical research might disprove. Godwin's Law says Hitler or Nazi analogies become more likely as a discussion grows longer. Well, that may be true...but empirical research might show it has nothing to do with the LENGTH of the conversation, rather that certain keywords tend to incite shallow thinkers to make their ridiculous Hitler comparisons. Godwin's Law is an observation (yes) but his theory is based on the length of the internet conversation.

Unlike Godwin, I am not theorizing about when it happens, or what causes it to happen. I'm just saying it happens and it drags down the intellectual level of internet conversation, and so when it happens, please cite "Johnny's Rule" accordingly.

Here is the rule:

WHEN somebody gets on the internet, whether anonymous or identifiable, and makes an assertion that clearly and obviously shows they didn't closely read the original point before commenting because clearly they missed something, THEN that person has violated Johnny's Rule.

The fact that person missed something should be quite clear and obvious. This rule is not to be applied in gray areas, but rather to fairly obvious examples of not reading something closely before commenting. The comment should be OBVIOUSLY FLAWED because of whatever was missed. Merely addressing one part of an argument and ignoring the rest is not a violation of Johnny's Rule.

Also, merely making a flawed or shallow argument is not a violation of Johnny's Rule. (Though heaven knows it might violate Godwin's Law)

No, rather Johnny's Rule is violated solely when somebody makes a comment that obviously, painfully makes it apparent they didn't read closely and therefore missed something important, and if they'd bothered to read more closely, they wouldn't have made the point they made the way they made it.


UNTIL the person in question makes a plausible explanation why he/she made a flawed point that makes it appear like they didn't read closely, or (better yet) 'fesses up how they didn't read closely before making their obviously flawed point, everybody is justifiably free to assume the commenter has glaring holes in their thinking and analyzing habits and nothing they've said in that conversation should be given very much regard.

Helpful humanitarian advice to take Attention Deficit Disorder medication, or to seek medication for what may be an undiagnosed issue, can be freely given.

Yes, some slack is built into the law to address the possibility of, for example, reading but simply not understanding, like when there is legal or technical language. Somebody accused of violating Johnny's Rule might say, "Sorry, I thought 'malice' meant a feeling of strong dislike, not the legal meaning of 'reckless disregard for the truth,' or I wouldn't have made my point that way."

Furthermore, Johnny's Rule only applies to THAT CONVERSATION. Anybody might have an off day, an off moment, or literally skip taking their ADD medication. It doesn't mean they are a flawed thinker ALL THE TIME. Furthermore, by embracing the law and admitting violating it, the commenter in question is put on notice to read more closely. So what they say from that point forward will hopefully have more value.

But, despite kindness and slack built into the Rule, Johnny's Rule exists to point out something STUPID was just said, and this STUPID THING exists in an IDENTIFIABLE, LABELED AND EASILY CITED SPECIFIC CATEGORY OF STUPID.


Johnny Northside! said...

Credit to Napoleon Hill, who said "Think twice before you speak once."

Napoleon Hill lived before there was an internet, of course, and Johnny's Rule applies to discussions on the internet.

Anonymous said...

Did you acquire some form of military intelligence the last year and a half? I guess the famous oxymoron prevents that. You're on drugs,John, because you are making way too much sense.Jumbo shrimp,what the hell.