“Feeeeeeeeed Me”

In the movie, turned play, turned movie, Little Shop of Horrors, Audrey II demands flesh and blood from Seymour.

The internet does the same. Whether it’s on the twitters or here, people demand, feed me.

A disconnect has grown between the limits of personal knowledge, combined with a little bit of subject-matter interest or ideology, that has given way to the expectation that every random idiot on the internet is entitled to demand that he be spoon-fed information, whether to learn it (“just out of curiosity”) or argue against it.

The old question, raised years ago, of whether the internet makes people stupider misses the point. The internet contains massive quantities of information. Some true. Some false. Some brilliant. Some moronic. What you glean from it is based on where you go, what you see, what you’re inclined to believe. But this goes back to a time when people put in that itty bitty effort to find out what they wanted to know.

Therein lies the difference. No longer do people say to themselves, “hey, that’s an interesting issue about which I would like to learn more. Let me google it.” That requires some tiny amount of effort. That’s too much for you.

Feeeeeeeed me.

This caught up to me yesterday on the twitters, when I wrote a twit that would be clear and relatively uncontroversial to anyone with a smattering of subject matter knowledge. In response, I received a substantial number of twits from people who lacked any knowledge beyond the prior 24 hours. I offered some kindly advice.

The platitude that everyone is entitled to an opinion is false. Only people with sufficient knowledge to form an opinion are entitled to one. You may be entitled to emit sounds from your yap, or type letters into social media platforms, but that’s not an opinion. It’s noise.

And there’s no reason why I, or anyone else, should care that the ignorant and lazy would prefer to spew their noise than take the time to get a clue before making their noise, but that’s neither where it begins nor ends. It begins with a random person, meaning a person whom I don’t know, whether or not they think they know me, demanding that I answer, explain, source some bit of information for them.

Sometimes I ignore it, because it’s not my job to explain to anyone who asks whatever it is they demand to know. Sometimes I try to tell them, but they lack the background to grasp what they’re told. Other times, they use it to then go on the attack, as they have no interest in the answer but seek to spew whatever crap floats between their ears.

Before retiring for the evening last night, there was a comment left here by a first-time commenter, who included that he was a regular reader though he hadn’t commented before, asking for an explanation of an utterly basic legal issue premised on a blitheringly idiotic assumption. My first reaction was to smack the commenter, and I did in response. This morning, I decided to trash the comment instead.

To each person doing the asking, there is one common attribute: entitlement. You are the center of your own universe, but you are not the center of mine. You feel entitled to have me explain it to you, teach you, spar with you, even though I neither know who you are nor care if you exist. Why do you feel that you have a claim on my time? Why do you feel I’m here to chew your food for you so you don’t have to exert the energy? Why do you feel your random anon opinion matters to me, or to anyone for that matter?

This is fun for you? That’s nice. It’s not nearly as much fun for me. I’m not here to sell you on anything. There’s nothing here to buy. I don’t care if you read SJ or not, agree with me or not. No one pays me to do this. You don’t pay to read this. And I certainly do not show up at your front door and insist that you spend your time here. Do you think I’m stupid? Fair enough. Go to reddit. Nobody puts a gun to your head and says, “read SJ or else.”

But your “just one question” is repeated a thousand times to me. It may be easy peasy on your side, but my patiently explaining the answer to every idiotic question posed kinda sucks the fun out of this for me.

I don’t want to be a misanthrope, but my tolerance for these entitled demands made is limited. I reach the point, usually three or four times a day, when I want to reach into the computer and smack the crap out of someone. You are not entitled to my time. You are not entitled to my explanation. This isn’t law school, and I’m not your loving professor. And when you preface your question with some offensive yet idiotic snark, conclusively proving that you are not merely entitled, but empowered by your stupidity, what are the chances you’re going to get a tummy rub in response?

Feed you? Because you’re lazy and ignorant? And if that’s too much effort for you, then don’t complain about the mean old man who wasn’t nice to you. Notice that I don’t reach out to you, send you random anonymous people emails or @ twits. I don’t ask anything of you. You don’t get to ask anything of me either.

Feed yourself.

49 thoughts on ““Feeeeeeeeed Me”

  1. RB

    I’m an intermittent reader and non-lawyer, but reading your posts always teaches me something or gives me a better perspective on things that frustrate me.
    Today, feel a bit better about my daily frustrations with entitled idiots. Thank you.

  2. Richard Kopf

    Scott, what the great majority of your readers fail to understand is the tremendous amount of work that is required to operate SJ. They have no clue.

    When I ran Hercules and the Umpire, I did not moderate comments (save for using spam filters). To me, the prospect of moderation was too overwhelming.

    Maybe it is time to drop moderation, and let the idiots post what they want. The many serious commenters, who are devoted to SJ, might then do some policing for you on their own. Figurative lynching by a mob of the devoted would not be such a bad thing. Then, again, that might seem like “surrender” to you.

    Alternatively, you could use the “blacklist” function in WP. (Settings, Discussion, Blacklist.) That, however, requires constant updating and adds an additional burden. So, that alternative is probably no solution.

    I wish I had a whiz-bang idea that would allow you kill off the living dead. I don’t. And I am truly sorry because SJ is such a treasure.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      I began moderation with one primary thought: to protect people from pseudo-legal advice, usually from a non-lawyer but occasionally from the real estate lawyer who feels entitled to offer his ideas about how to get away with murder, that will do them harm. There is a ton of crim law “advice” on the internets, most of which will get the reader life plus cancer for jaywalking.

      My problem, I think, is that I’m not nearly cruel enough in moderation. I should just trash mercilessly, but I feel badly for comments that I see as sincere but dangerously wrong. I try to let comments air, and to blunt their potential harm in the response. Not only is it a lot of work, but it’s tiresome. Some stupidity repeats constantly (and it’s really not a lot of fun dealing with them after the first few hundred times), while other is so bizarrely inexplicable that the effort to undo them requires magnitudes of effort greater than to create the problem.

      Frankly, Judge, my tolerance is wearing thin, and it wasn’t too thick before. But posts like this are cathartic for me, so I do them every once in a while to vent. If I didn’t, I would have gotten rid of comments long ago. But then, I wouldn’t get to read Fubar’s poetry. I really appreciate Fubar’s poetry.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        There’s no doubt Fubar’s by far the best,
        but it’s rounded out nicely by the rest.

        Barley-corn with his empire of porn, of course,
        Wild Bill, though I’ve heard of no horse.

        Yes, there’s lots that’s inane,
        and a judge, sober and sane.

        The comment section at simple justice,
        like a microcosm of the universe.

        1. Norahc

          To paraphrase Albert Einstein, “Two things are infinite, as far as we know – the Universe and human stupidity. And I’m not so sure about the Universe.”

          I appreciate the work done here at SJ to fend off stupidity and disappearing integrity in society. Every once it a while being reminded that there are stupid, entitled, or dishonest people out there really serves to drive home the point that we need to change.

          Thank you SHG…your efforts are appreciated more than you’re told.

      2. Derek Ramsey

        I feel badly for comments that I see as sincere but dangerously wrong

        You can’t fix everyone, but you can help some: those of us who try hard not to ‘win’ the Billy Madison award (again) and to bring something useful to the table each time.

        Whenever you’ve criticized my comments, I’ve wondered why you didn’t just delete them, as per your own commenting rules. It is not always clear which comments you want among those you keep. You’ve deleted some before and that sends a message just fine (and saves you a response). Would linking to a more detailed commenting policy help (at least for those who actually read it)?

        1. SHG Post author

          You mean a page like this?

          If I did, nobody would read it. Hell, new commenters don’t read the one on the screen now. And if they did, it would only make them tell me why I’m wrong and an asshole. There’s no winning or nice way to do this. The answer is let it go or be merciless. My real problem is I’m too friggin’ nice.

          1. Jim Tyre

            A dysfunctional link, my friend. (Yes, even when you trash some of my golden comments.)

      3. PAV

        Fubar is something special.

        Your efforts to blunt the stupid have a positive effect. Your comments are precise and incisive. Thank you for that.

        1. SHG Post author

          And brief. I really try to be brief. If you read the post, I’ve already made you endure enough.

    2. btfine

      Not only do I appreciate the tremendous amount of work, I am constantly in awe of shear productivity. SJ is the top of my very short must read blog list, and I often have a hard time keeping up on the consumer end. I don’t know of a professional blogger (as in has no other job) that posts more words or more thought.

      All that is before even thinking about comment moderation. While it does sound “exhausting”, you may want to know that SJ is the only place on the internet where I ever read the comments. 50% because there is thought there and 50% for the entertainment value of the smackdowns. I know of no other site that has a comments section worth anything.

      SJ and it’s comments section are a valuable resource for us non-lawyers who want to fill in the glaring holes in the media’s legal coverage. No tummy rub intended, I will go hit the tip jar to prove the value is valued.

      1. SHG Post author

        Fact Check: True, and thank you.

        I may have mentioned this once or twice, but I write because that’s what I need to do, as opposed to people who force themselves or get paid for it. I can barely stop myself.

        And I’m a very fast, if occasionally inaccurate, typist.

        1. Nick Lidakis

          If you asked me I’d wager you use a IBM model M clicky keyboard; possibly the rare industrial grey version.

          But you didn’t ask. And I don’t wager.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that the more smoked meats Scott gets, the fewer stupid questions of mine he’ll answer. Simple supply and demand, really.

  3. Nick Lidakis

    You coulda just provided a link to your most excellent post on Leprosy. It sure recalibrate my clock for the better. 😉

      1. Nick Lidakis

        How many times a day do you go around Scottsplainin’ that babies come from women’s loins?

        Made me giggle so loud.

          1. Corey

            You know, I’m pretty sure the ABA would say mentioning your kids to make a point is discriminatory against those of us without kids…

            1. SHG Post author

              I don’t think there’s a thing I say that won’t hurt somebody’s feelz. That space on my credenza for the award from the ABA for Coolest Lawyer Ever will never be filled.

            2. Corey

              Probably not. But now I really want to know what the ABA thinks the definition of cool is.

  4. PseudonymousKid

    Dear Papa,

    Hopefully no one who posts comments expects a tummy rub. You have lots of responses that show what to actually expect. That’s part of the fun. Thanks for the hard work.

    Much Love,

  5. kushiro

    OK, so I read this but I don’t understand it at all. Could you please explain what you mean by this post, the events that prompted it, what Twitter is, everything about this Kamala Harris person, and what you mean by “tummy rub”?

    In detail, please.

    Also, if you could work in whether or not you can shout “fire” in a crowded theater, that would be great kthxbye!

  6. Fubar

    You may be entitled to emit sounds from your yap, or type letters into social media platforms, but that’s not an opinion. It’s noise.

    Which is why I instruct all my minions
    To be profligate with their opinions.
    Their noise and confusion
    Expands through diffusion,
    To bring new worlds into my dominions!


    FN 1: Oops! I just revealed my sekrit plan to rule the universe.²

    FN 2: But it’s lunch time, so I’d better go feed myself before I forget.

    1. Morgan O.

      I would pay good money (maybe even that silly monochrome scrap you rebels use) for a Best of SJ collection, with each chapter being prefaced by a Fubar limerick.

        1. Morgan O.

          More than is required for a dozen maple-glazed donuts, but less than a rifle-height of beaver pelts?

        2. Derek Ramsey

          Have you ever considered the Patreon model? Yours is one of the premier blogs on the internet, so it would be unsurprising if you brought in a few hundred dollars a month given how loyal and appreciative your readers are.

            1. Derek Ramsey

              It is recurring payments under the umbrella of the patronage (sponsorship) model. People who appreciate and value your work become your patrons. Many of the greatest artists and minds over the centuries have used this approach. It’s not charity and it is not employment. It takes the feelings out of giving you money to produce your craft.

              Unlike traditional donations, it is public sponsorship. The number of patrons you have and the total amount you are paid is public. People can see how much you are worth to others and there is no risk of hoodwinking them into you making $1,000 a month unless they think you are worth it.

            2. Brian Cowles

              I’ll second the Patreon thing. If I had to guess, you could comfortably multiply that $1.25 by 100.

              For what it’s worth, I deeply appreciate the amount of comment moderation you do. As such, I try not to add to it without good reason. I have only found two other blogs where the comments are as well-kept as they are here, and one of those was Fault Lines (obviously).

              (SHG, something’s up with the mobile version of your site today. It won’t show the math problem. Then it won’t show the desktop version unless I’m replying to a comment. No idea why, but I thought you ought to know.)

            3. SHG Post author

              Sorry about the captcha. I keep tweaking it, but the hackers screw it up as fast as I fix it.

              Just tried a few more tweaks. If you could, let me know if this helps.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Monochrome? Monochrome??!?

        Why, I’ll have you know it has green AND black on the white paper, and that’s even before some of the newer bills that look positively Wizard-of-Ozish in comparison.

  7. Prometheus

    It’s part of your destiny, and there is no escaping it. If you didn’t have random strangers asking you very odd questions here they would be accosting you in public to do it. I would feel your pain but I have enough of my own, thank you.

  8. DanQ

    Random Poster Alert: I read a report today in the WaPo that quoted a study saying that 7% (~16MM) Americans think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. Though I’ve never seen a post here about brown cows and chocolate milk, I read this blog to help me separate the brown from the crap from the chaff. SHG, I *always* check here, especially now, for literate and informed opinions. Thank You.

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