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.
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.
To the shit-for-brains on both sides, Kamala Harris didn’t spring from her mother’s loins yesterday. She has history. Learn it.
— Scott Greenfield (@ScottGreenfield) June 14, 2017
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.