Dear commenter: there aren’t really any unicorns on rocket ships flying out of my ass

On Feb. 10, Wufnik posted an analysis entitled “Surrounded by people ‘educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.’” I followed up four days later with “Why America has more education and less to show for it than ever before.” The thrust of these posts was that Americans today have more schooling, but at the same time have lost the ability to think critically. More data, less wisdom.

Then, on Friday, I did an article entitled “Target to require retinal scans and DNA samples of all in-store customers.” As is customary around here, we submitted this piece to a few social networks and news aggregators. If you surf the Diggs and Reddits and Currents and StumbleUpons of the online world, you know to come armed with low expectations for community aptitude. Still, some of these folks are thicker than others. Like this guy, who seemed intent on offering himself up as an example of the point made in the two articles linked at the top:

And the very first line of the article reads:
“Okay, maybe not yet. But we’re definitely getting there.”
Misleading headlines that are deliberate lies designed to outrage you?
I’ll put that website on my ignore list. Besides, the news about Target knowing of a teen’s pregnancy before she did is not new news.

[sigh] In order for a headline to be misleading, it first has to be plausible. If a headline mentioned unicorns flying rocket ships out of my ass, and there weren’t actually any real unicorns or real rocket ships flying out of my ass, then you’d be violated and outraged and blacklisting Web sites left and right, huh?

I realize I’m violating my new rule in life, which is fairly simple: ignore idiots. There are more of them than there are of you and every minute you waste trying to enlighten them is a minute you can’t devote to a more productive activity. You know, like chilling with Jersey Shore or watching paint dry. But this one I couldn’t make myself let go. So I replied thusly:

So, just to be clear, you saw the headline “Target to require retinal scans and DNA samples of all in-store customers” and thought it was real?


I started to add that, by the way, I know the story isn’t “new” – my story linked that Forbes article, you dolt. The new part was a few paragraphs down, which you’d know if you had read past the first sentence.

I should be proud of the fact that I’m afforded these kinds of opportunities to participate in such a rich intellectual history. After all, 383 years ago one of this guy’s ancestors wrote an outraged letter to the Dublin Times & Picayune lambasting Jonathan Swift’s suggestion that the “impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies.”*

Truly, I’m honored.

* In case the commenter in question is reading, I should probably make clear that this is “satire.” Which is a big word for “pwned” or clowned.


  • This post makes me uncomfortable.

    1. I am an elitist, as is everyone on this site. Still, I think elitism has to be tempered a bit by the McNamara rule, that is, even the smartest one among us is not smart enough. The basis of democracy, which I believe in, is the wisdom of crowds as a counter-balance to unfettered elitism. To me, your post was tantamount to saying “stupid people shut up and sit down,” which I have a problem with.

    2. I think it is bad form and risky business to insult your readers. I recently read a line by a very successful blogger who said, “your job is to make your readers love you.” That’s a bit extreme, but I do think that if they care enough to leave a sincere comment, they at least deserve reciprocity.

    Sorry, not very coherent, but this doesnt feel right to me.

    • 1: This particular stupid person was rather aggressively nominating us for a blacklist. “I don’t get it” and “I don’t get it so nobody should read it” are positions that merit different kinds of responses in my book.

      2: I want to make my readers … well, love me might be a bit much some days, but I’d like to leave them smarter than I found them. That said, it is more than apparent that this person isn’t a reader. He/she never made it past the first sentence.

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