Monday, September 20, 2010

One Lump or Two?

Time and time again, I am presented with a fresh victim. And rather than relish the delightful treat I am about to excoriate, I ask myself “Why would this seemingly normal human being request a review from us?”

"For validation," seems to be a frequent response, and all I can do is wonder whether these poor creatures know how to read. Or if they have an inkling what “I Will Fucking Tear You Apart” means. They clearly have picked the wrong review site. They certainly have happened upon the wrong reviewer. Unlike some reviewers here who can be seduced by a certain quaint charm, I cannot. If you wish to curry my favor, it comes down to a simple rubric. Do you expand my mind? Do I find myself longing to read just one more post? Do you turn a phrase in a new and fresh way that causes me to look anew upon the mundane and everyday? Or are you trite? Do you overwhelm with clichés and small-talk?

I hate trite, clichés and small-talk. Okay, hate’s an awfully strong word. I understand these things have their place, but I would probably rather remove my own spleen with a rusty fishhook than sit through too much small-talk. I bet that sounds like I’m using hyperbole to make a point, but to tell the truth, the fact that I would get such an amazing story out of removing my own spleen with a rusty fishhook has me contemplating just how many hours of small-talk would push me to that extreme. And it is not as high a number as you might think.

People frequently write for very different reasons than they have for reading, and often what makes for a compelling story that you want to share makes for a chore for a thinking human to read. Especially when the presumed purpose of your writing is merely to make social connections. To share awards. To spread memes. This sort of writing is the literary equivalent of a coffee-clatch, a place where weary mothers can get together to chit-chat about their days, their children or grandkids, and, I dunno, scrapbook or something. And I bet that there are a lot of people who get something out of this. There are likely hundreds of thousands of people (maybe even more) for whom this sort of interaction, whether in person or in the virtual world of Blogger or Wordpress, fills some urgent inner need.

But this is a need I do not have. And so, I cannot relate. I must come to you today to report that Nancy, a mid-thirties mother of two, originally from India, but now living in Dubai, UAE with her husband of 11 years, spends way too much time with online chit-chat for my liking.

I am not completely heartless. Nancy does get a lot of feedback via this chit-chat that really feeds her in ways that she needs, so I would never for the life of me tell her to stop what she’s doing. But I might ask in an extremely pointed manner what in the name of all that is sacred to her was she expecting from a review here? I gather that she is a fairly conservative person, in terms of subject matter that she feels is appropriate. I could be wrong. Still, I was getting the distinct impression that the concept of being FUCKING torn apart would be reprehensible to her. So, again, why? Why here?

As luck would have it, we actually have another quitter on our hands. By my calculations, about a month before requesting a review, Nancy declared that she was going on hiatus for an indeterminate period of time, only breaking away from her self-imposed moratorium to post one more meme. All I can imagine is that she was hoping that she would get some sort of spark from me telling her that, Gosh Awmighty, if she didn’t immediately start writing again, I was going to kill myself. But in fairness to you, to me, and truthfully to her as well, I can’t provide her with that spark.

Because if that spark comes from outside of you, it does not belong to you at all.

All that aside, I do want to say that I learned some very interesting things from Nancy. About life in the United Arab Emirates, and about what it is like to have an arranged marriage. And for that, I am genuinely grateful that I read the last year’s worth of posts.

I always like to leave my victims with some pointers on how to improve, and Nancy is no exception. I have several ideas. She may not be interested in any of them, and she is certainly free to ignore everything about this review.

  • Please stop spelling in shorthand. It hurts my cerebral cortex. “Coz” is wrong. It is spelled “because,” or “’cause” if pressed for time. And “of course” is two words, not one.
  • Edit. A lot. Get to the point quicker. Brevity is a virtue. Even your better posts were a chore to read simply owing to unnecessary length and meandering off the point.
  • Stop blogging about blogging about blogging. Or blog buddies. Or blog awards. Or memes (or as you call them “tags”).
  • The kinds of things that we, the people who don’t know you but who might happen upon your blog, want to know are buried deep. Who you are. Why you blog. What you’re all about. And even then, out of a year’s worth of posts, maybe three were really personal, what’s-Nancy-really-like stuff. The rest were trivia. Trivia is okay, but not very substantial. Bring that stuff out more. Push it to the front on an About Me page. Or give up on people like me.

16 comments:

  1. Good job Scorpio. Man....I am guilty of maybe twice putting an emoticon in a post - but if I see it more than once in one page scroll? Grrr argh. This is not email or text speak - I am hoping the writing will convey the emotions I wish you to feel.

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  2. I'm iffy about small talk, because everyone has a completely different view as to what constitutes as small talk.

    I'm not saying I necessarily like her blog, but you know.

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  3. Oh, I am certain that this would have been a very different review had someone else done it.

    Maybe someday we ought to try that -- two different reviewers on a single site? Could be interesting.

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  4. ooooh a review finally....I'd almost given up on u guys. I thought u were going to tear me to bits but ur review is much better than I expected;-D. But honestly, thanks for nothing coz....ooops sorry ur highness 'because' u didnt actually tell me anything I didnt know; I know I tend to ramble on & love posting on subject related to blogging....
    But I do take offense at the "spends way too much time with online chit-chat for my liking." Huh if u chk my rate of posting I manage to put up just 1 post a week and tht too with gr8 difficulty.

    Jokes apart, I personally think my better posts with a lot 'ME' in it, are in archives. Well I cant keep repeating the same stuff over and over again can I???
    And as to why I'm 'here'??? Search me I have no fucking clue. Goodness I actually typed the F word fully for the 1st time;-o. And glory be its fucking liberating;-D

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  5. And did I mention it tht I loved the review;-D

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  6. I don't know about that - the whole "different reviewer" thing. I think your rating is pretty spot on.

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  7. Nah Shiner. I think I'd start with a few flaming fingers for butchering the language. And another couple for the "response"

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  8. You know, I was genuinely concerned that I was being unnecessarily harsh, so I appreciate the spirit of the response. Nancy seemed to take it well.

    As for the majority of the "me" stuff being in the archive, I did go a year back, so yeah, maybe I missed some good stuff. Maybe a "Best Of" or "Stuff you really ought to know" grouping would help?

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  9. I have also thought about the two reviews on one site thing. The rating might be similar but would be interesting to see how they were written.

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  10. Like Point/Counterpoint?

    "Shiner, you magnificently ignorant slut. The fact that you are willing to give even a teensy biddy little star to this pile of crack needles gives evidence to what I have suspected all along: your head is full of dogshit and cracker crumbs, and you bathe by licking your own anus. No offense to Johnny."

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  11. "Scorpio, you shady sharpee-headed virgin, I'm appalled that the words you chose to express your misogynistic regard for this woman's blog came from the same mouth you eat your mother with."

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  12. You know. Hypothetically.

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  13. Comment of the week for sure. Lovely, just lovely.

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  14. Scorpio, you sweet little nardling, what is it about your nards that causes women to constantly bust them?

    "...you shady sharpee-headed virgin..." That's amazing but then again, it's Rassles so how could it be anything but.

    As for the review, I thought it was quite good. And you got 15 comments (including this one)! I can almost feel the love in the air. As for the blog, I liked the arranged marriage story but the language butchering would grate on my nerves after awhile.

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  15. I'm not a grammar nazi.
    Misspellings and errors are just distracting.

    Carry on.

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Grow a pair.