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Stupid people are driving me insane.

I don't know if this is due to some sort of climate condition but for some reason lately there seems to be more deliberate idiocy going around than normal. And it's not just me. I've asked around and others agree that the general IQ of the world seems to be dropping.

What's got us all in a tizzy?

People who have no idea how to participate in an adult conversation.

Now I'm not talking about newbies who don't understand the basics of how to participate in an Internet conversation (that's another story). I'm talking about people who, for whatever reason, just do not comprehend how to use their brains and talk at the same time.

So here's a few tips from me to you:

Read For Content

I can't tell you how many times I'm coming across this lately. People who will apparently read posts just for keywords and totally skip the rest.

Here's an example -

I'm trying to cancel an account I opened up a few months ago. I send an email to the billing department of the company in question, saying that I need to close the XYZ account. I also tell them "Look, I know that I need to give you the last four digits of the credit card I used for this account in order to prove I am who I say I am. However I've got a ton of credit cards, I'm not sure which one I used and quite frankly I've yet to see your name pop up on any of my bills so I'm not entirely sure you opened this account properly in the first place. But just to be on the safe side I'm pretty sure that I used credit card blah blah blah with the numbers of blah blah blah. If it turns out I'm wrong just let me know and I'd be more than happy to figure out some other method of proving that I am who I say I am."

A few hours later I get an email back. What does it say? "In order to cancel your account with us you need to give us the last four digits of the credit card used to open the account."

Do you see what I mean about reading for content? This person COMPLETELY IGNORED the fact that I had gone into GREAT detail about the credit card situation up to and including THE CREDIT CARD NUMBERS I GAVE THEM and simply saw "I want to cancel my account" to which she sent back the four-digit request.

And it wasn't a form letter either. I could at least understand it if that was the situation. But no, this was an actual person.

And this isn't the only time I've seen this lack of reading for content. Even in discussion that I'm not a part of I've sat back and watched as people totally fly off the handle about the stupidest things, never once bothering to check if what they said bore any resemblance to the original discussion.

READ FOR CONTENT PEOPLE. Actually take five seconds to READ what's in front of you before you start talking.

Next:

If you don't have anything to contribute, shut the Hell up.

This is especially true for mailing lists and message boards where space is valuable, but quite frankly this should apply to life as well. You'd be amazed at how many people will actually respond to a discussion by saying "I've got nothing to contribute here." Period.

Now I could understand this if it was a dead discussion. You're posting so that the original poster understands that nobody is ignoring him. That's OK. But these are live discussions I'm talking about. Discussions that were chugging along just fine until some idiot feels they just have to tell us "I don't have anything to say."

Sadly, apparently some people need to be TOLD that if they don't have anything to say they should just SHUT UP.

A cousin to this is the person who feels a need to kill a conversation while they're doing this. Here's an example - in one fanfic discussion group I belong to somebody brought up a question which asked people to give their opinions about a particular interpretation of a character. Some idiot (I'm using this word a lot and for good reason) responded to that by basically saying "That interpretation is not given in the books. Unless it is written down in the books it doesn't exist. So there's no point in discussing this."

WHAT?? What the Hell?! Why on earth do people feel that not only do they have to post in order to tell us they have nothing to say but that they ALSO need to tell us WE have nothing to say either? Again I could understand if this was done in the attempt to say (in this example) "I believe that only what's in the books counts, but let's talk about why some people don't agree with the books while others do." but that wasn't the point here. The point of this post was to kill the discussion. Why? What purpose does this serve?

I'll tell you: none. DON'T DO IT.

Don't act like you're an expert if you're not.

I'm not saying that you need to have a master's degree in whatever subject you're talking about before you can say a word. But at least try to know what you're talking about before you claim to be an expert on it. It amazes me how many people will just run their mouths about anything like they know what they're talking about when in fact they don't have a clue. Here's a hint - reading a book on the subject doesn't make you an "expert". Neither does seeing a TV show or reading a fictional novel that talks about it. Actually studying the topic makes you an expert in it - or at least more of an expert than you were before.

And if somebody proves that they know more than you - eat humble pie and back the Hell down. It wastes everyone's time if you turn a discussion into nothing more than a way to stroke your own ego. Be glad you found someone who likes what you like and try to learn from them!

Don't make the discussion about your fanfiction unless you have a REAL good reason.

This is a new one for me but apparently there are some people out there who think that their writing is the greatest example of literature ever created and thus serves as the perfect illustration for any discussion about anything. You know the kind of poster I'm talking about - "This is a good question, and if you read my story, Blair Sandburg, Graduate Student, you'll fully understand just how men feel about their fathers in today's post-modern society."

Hell for that matter we've got ol' Mater Glorioso - "Are you sure you're gay? If not, read my book..."

First off, this is a really fucking ARROGANT claim. It assumes 1. that your story is such hot shit in the first place that we all need to read it and 2. that you yourself are such an expert on the topic (see above) that your story is a great educational tool.

Now if you want to use your writing just as an example, that's ok. Saying something like "When I wrote about Obi-Wan's time as a student I was thinking about the concept of peer pressure and that's why I included a mention of..." is ok. Why? Because you're actually contributing to the conversation. You're telling us your thoughts and ideas and just pointing to your story as a side-note. You're not making your story your only contribution and you're not forcing people to read your story in order to know what you think (see the earlier comment about conversation killers).

Don't just post saying "read my story if you want to know what I think." It contributes nothing.

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