I Can't Even...
by Sara "Zarine" Jessop
… Etiquette, Winter Version
Ah, winter. That wonderful time of year when we all hibernate in our homes, sipping hot pepperminty drinks and eating obscene amounts of delicious food that we will frantically try to lose the evidence of come spring. It's generally a quiet time of year. The social whirl dies down in favor of alone time and self reflection, and with that comes inevitable boredom.
Dear reader, boredom can be relieved in many ways. Redecorating your home, catching up on written correspondence, spending time with the other inhabitants of your home, or (not so subtle hint) perhaps spending time with a paid companion could all be excellent ways to pass the time over the course of the long, cold winter. But there is one tried and true way that we all seem to like to alleviate our boredom: Arguing with each other.
Now, the magical message boards that we all have access to were created for great reasons. We can all keep in touch with each other from long distances, we all get important information in a timely fashion, and most importantly you have access to my advice as soon as it is available. But there is an, presumably, unintended downside to these boards: people are insufferable plebs who don't think before they post and will find any excuse to be a complete and utter neden-ninny simply because they are bored. Simple questions posed by unassuming innocents quickly turn into full blown, expletive filled, name calling, message wars.
I can't even begin to describe to you how much of a waste of time this all is. It's like a carriage crash; highly amusing to the passerby, but a terrible tragedy to those actually involved. And then of course there is always the drunk driver of the whole debacle; he who causes the crash and walks away unscathed while the injured are left to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. “Oh Zarine, stop being so overdramatic,” you are thinking to yourselves. And you are not wrong, it isn't nearly as bad as being horribly disfigured and even dismembered in a fiery accident, but it isn't exactly a charming picnic either. So this season, let's nip it in the bud before it begins shall we? Below, you shall find a comprehensive list of etiquette that should be followed at all times to help prevent seven-hundred and fifty-four comments worth of stupidity.
Don't post anything. Yes, dear reader, the only sure-fire way to prevent unwanted annoyances in your life is abstinence. You would think that this would be the only advice that I would need to provide, my job would be done for the week, and I could save my hand strength for more lucrative work. But alas, no one will follow such an excellent suggestion, and as such I must continue on.
Think before you post. Yes, much common sense, so much easy, right? Wrong. Turns out, thinking is quite difficult for most of you on a normal basis, but even more so when faced with the magical glow of the message board. It's like a bright light of dimwittedness that sings a sirens song coaxing you to post the most asinine pile of excrement you can think up. Don't listen to it.
Remain calm. Did someone post something that set your already scalding blood ablaze with rage? I understand. I myself tend to be quick to anger. But one must remember what anger very rarely leads to anything productive, unless what you wanted to produce was a long illegible post with no punctuation, in which case carry on with your bad self. Walk away from the harsh glow telling you to post the rage filled drivel. Take a walk, sip some tea, fornicate, kill a peasant, or whatever you need to do to calm down to a point where you can respond in a productive manner, or even decide not to respond at all!
Proof read. Please. For all of us with any grasp of the common tongue, your unpunctuated, misspelled monstrosity is enough to fill us with rage, thus provoking us to respond with a well punctuated and correctly spelled yet totally unnecessary rebuttal. Also, you might well be an excellent and well read conversationalist in person, but your horrid command of the written language instantly make us all think you an uneducated buffoon and your point is never credited with any merit because it's easily brushed off as wrong due to it's lack of capitalization. Meanwhile someone else could be completely wrong, yet their point is written so eloquently that people think is must be correct. Presentation is quite important.
Wait an hour before posting. Just like swimming, posting too quickly after you've consumed someone else's post can cause discomfort. Though unlike the tummy cramp you'll get from swimming, we all are subjected to this discomfort. Much like the suggestion above to “remain calm”, just waiting a bit of time can help you formulate a better response, or decide not to respond at all. Most people seem to think that the quicker they get their response out there the better. Not true. An argument isn't a race. Just throwing posts out quicker than the other person doesn't mean you've won. It could just mean that perhaps others have a job and can't simply spend all day responding immediately, or that they like to think before they post, or perhaps they are proof reading... You know, all of the above suggestions that you aren't following because you're too busy winning some imaginary flame war that maybe you've managed to drag a couple of other unwitting idiots into. The only person who wins here is no one. We are all losers just for reading your ridiculous campaign against common sense and good manners.
If you couldn't do it in person, don't do it on the boards. Someone assaulted your honor? If it was well and truly something worth getting your panties in a bunch over, do something about it. Something real. Don't assassinate their character in the magical nether, go actually assassinate them. The weather is preventing your travel plans? Use the magical boards to find an assassin who lives closer to them and can convey your stabbination in your stead. Or use the time to come up with an elaborate plan that can be put into action in the spring. Or perhaps actually speak to the offender in person. Something about that magical light box makes us all think we are big goddamn badasses, but if we were actually face to face with the person who had our ire things would be quite different.
Lastly, ask yourself, “is my opinion really necessary to this discussion?” For the sake of time, I'll provide you with the answer: No. “But Zarine...” No. Keep it to yourself.
Dear reader, I cannot prevent the coming Message Board Wars, but hopefully if even a few of you follow my advice they will be less bloody and painful than in previous years. No, dear reader, no need to thank me. Reaching the spring after having to wade through less piles of steaming dung disguised as your “helpful opinions” will be thanks enough.
See you next Tuesday.
Zarine is the proprietor and Madam at Alchimia Lupanar, a magic marshal approved practitioner of medicine, and has 35 years of experience in giving her unsolicited opinion.