The Rules

Friday, January 20, 2006
WHEREAS, 95 percent of all the e-mail received by critics and columnists is civil, friendly or respectfully constructive;

but WHEREAS, this is the Internet age, and we're all anonymous and can avoid making eye contact forever;

and WHEREAS, there's so much information overload, a little heat and drama on your part may be necessary just to be heard above the din;

and WHEREAS, many of those who fire off potshots are missing out on some of the best techniques for effective snippiness;

THEREFORE let us now post the rules for membership in the Pills of the American Internet Neighborhood Society.

1. Use the strongest language possible. Calling names is always effective, and four-letter words show that you mean business.

2. Having a violent opinion of something doesn't require you to actually try it yourself. After all, plenty of people heatedly object to books they haven't read or movies they haven't seen. Heck, you can imagine perfectly well if something is any good.

3. If it's a positive review that you didn't like, call the reviewer a "fanboy." Do not entertain the notion that the product, service, show, movie, book or restaurant might, in fact, be good. Instead, assume that the reviewer has received payment from the reviewee. Work in the word "shill" if possible.

4. If it's a negative review, call the reviewer a "basher" and describe the review as a "hatchet job." Accuse him of being paid off by the reviewee's *rival*.

5. If it's a mixed review, ignore the passages that balance the argument. Pretend that the entire review is all positive or all negative. Refer to it either as a "rave" or a "slam."

6. If you find a sentence early in the article that rubs you the wrong way, you are by no means obligated to finish reading. Stop right where you are--express your anger while it's still good and hot! What are the odds that the writer is going to say anything else relevant to your point later in the piece, anyway?

7. If the writer responds to your e-mail with evidence that you're wrong (for example, by citing a paragraph that you overlooked), disappear without responding. This is the anonymous Internet; slipping away without consequence or civility is your privilege.

8. Trolling is making a deliberately inflammatory remark, one that you know perfectly well is baloney, just to get a rise out of other people. Trolling is an art. Trolling works just fine for an audience of one (say, a journalist), but of course the real fun is trolling on public bulletin boards where you can get dozens of people screaming at you simultaneously. Comments on religion, politics or Mac-vs.-Windows are always good bets. The talented troll sits back to enjoy the fireworks with a smirk, and never, ever responds to the responses.

9. Don't let generalities slip by. Don't tolerate simplifications for the sake of a non-technical audience. Ignore conditional words like "generally," "usually" and "most." If you read a sentence that says, for example, "The VisionPhone is among the first consumer videophones," cite the reviewer's ignorance and laziness for failing to mention the prototype developed by AT&T for the 1964 World's Fair. Send copies of your note to the publication's publisher and, if possible, its advertisers.

And there you have it: the nine habits of highly effective pills. After all: if you're going to be a miserable curmudgeon, you may as well do it up right! —How to Be a Curmudgeon on the Internet - New York Times

One question: what the hell is a "pill"?


terrye said...

My grandfather used to call me a pill, sometimes even a pistol.

I am not sure however, if the meaning here is meant in the same affectionate sort of way.

Aren't we all pills from time to time?

vnjagvet said...


Let me guess:

You weren't trying to be a real good girl when your grandfather called you a pill, and you were being pretty darn cute when he called you a pistol.

At least that was our usage in Pennsylvania.

terrye said...

Hey, my Papa always thought I was cute.

I don't think I can remember one time when he got mad at me.

So when he said I was being a pill my mother was probably saying I was a brat. When he said I was a pistol my mother was [once again] saying I was a brat.

vnjagvet said...

In our usage when someone did something particularly clever or precocious, he/she was declared "a pistol" or when extra special, "a real pistol"

OTH one who did something naughty or behaved sullenly or in some other undesireable fashion, was "a pill" or "a real pill".

Peter UK said...

John F Kerry,has joined Kos
Time to put the rules into action.

Buddy Larsen said...

Oh, that guy is SO rancid--I read just enough to get to Tora Bora. You know, the place where HE would not have lost OBL (because he would never have been east of Long Island).

Peter UK said...

It is a well known fact the john F,Kerry spent Christmas at Tora Bora having taken a wrong turn on the Mekong in has Swift Boat "The Saucy Sally",this is where he was given his lucky Afghan Hat by a very tall CIA agent known only a "O".

MeaninglessHotAir said...

..and never, ever responds to the responses

Sounds just like somebody around here.... Now who was it...?

vnjagvet said...

Does his name start with M?????

Buddy Larsen said...

While "Saucy Sally" was anchored in the Himalayas, the locals renamed the area "Tora Bore".

Knucklehead said...

Being sullen or whiny provoked the "pill" label when I was a kid. Mom used it, never dad. "He's been a real pill today" or "don't be such a pill". It clearly wasn't a good thing to be a "pill" but as far as I recall it wasn't far enough into the bad spectrum to warrant punishment.

I think it very similar to being a kvetch or pain in the arse.

Far more energy was required to be a "pistol" and it was very similar to being a "real handful". There was clearly something on the positive side with being a pistol 'cause even thought it invariable frazzled and aggravated Mom, as with being a pill, it never drew any form of punishment. Pistols seem to have worn moms out while dads found them amusing and often humorous.

I think a pistol is similar to a "pisser".

Buddy Larsen said...

read what Mr. Snitch has to say!

Peter UK said...

This reads like authentic Kerryian ego spiel.
"John Kerry

P.S. I want you all to know that I’m reading your many comments. My wife Teresa reads blogs passionately, and I follow blogs too, and I’m glad I can be a part of this – and frankly I’m not worried about taking some slings and arrows along the way. I’ve faced worse! So keep the comments coming -- good, bad, hopefully not indifferent."