To save you and me and everyone else’s time, I want to propose a few suggestions about what (not) to talk about – both online and in “meatspace”. I don’t make too much of a distinction between the two spaces, but cyberspace does allow us to have our own soap-boxes – even when we’re using comment sections – for others to see (yay).

So here’s what you shouldn’t say, on your digital manifestos and in conversation with a semi-conscious human mammals.
1. 'That’s just your/his/her/one/my opinion…'

At it’s best, this is a description. It tells us whose opinion it is.

Well, thanks.

But presumably you telling me “This is the opinion of the article’s writer” is as useful as telling me “the article has words”; you telling me “That’s just your opinion” is quite obvious since I gave it to you.

Second, it doesn’t matter whose opinion it is – in many instances – what matters is whether it’s a good opinion.

Tell me something about the opinion that isn’t merely a description of it. Then, once you’ve told me it’s a bad or good opinion, tell me why.

An opinion doesn’t get free rein to say whatever. It needs to have grounding in reality, in reason, in justification so we can take the opinion seriously. If you don’t want it to be taken seriously, then what’s the point of telling us?

(Many things can’t be perfectly justified, like a preference for certain foods, smells, etc. But then you can say: “This is a matter of taste”. Often we confuse taste for critical opinion: all art appreciation is a mixture of personal taste and critical reflection. As much as possible when communicating why a film, book, video game, etc., is good/bad we need to use language and justification that will make others see it from our point of view. You can’t just assert it’s good because it’s your taste.

This is why good reviews convince you to see things from the author’s perspective, whether they love or hate it. Not everyone can do so but that’s what makes good reviewers!)
2. 'Just saying…'

Has there been a more useless two word ending to a sentence than this? You might as well end a sentence with “…said I” and flourish your hands dramatically.

What does this do? Nothing. Nothing is what it does – except eat up your character limit on Twitter – or whatever kids are using these days – and my time.

What you’ve said prior to this should stand on its own. If you’re trying to downplay (or whatever) that comment – for whatever reason – then amend the comment. Be clearer the first time.
3. 'That’s offensive…'

To who? Why?

Things aren’t offensive in some universal sense, emanating offensive energy like flames from Sauron’s Eye. This doesn’t mean things can’t be offensive, but you’re better off using another term. Say, for example, that’s a racist, ignorant, sexist, etc., phrase then articulate why that it is.
4. 'I had this dream last night…'

Stop. Just stop. Nobody cares.

Seriously: it’s not some magic god whispering secrets about your future; it’s not your precog abilities turning on.

It’s your animal brain doing a funky dance on sleep hormones. Enjoy it, sure, but it can mean whatever the hell you want. And since nobody else experienced it, why should anyone care?

Imagine just yelling imagery: “melted clocks!” “branches!” “lions from flowers!” – people would think you’re mad. But premise it with “I had a dream last night…” and suddenly it’s “cool imagery”.

No: Cool imagery consists of stills from Neil Blomkamp films or Salvador Dali. What we heard was nonsense memory that no one can relate to. Save us time and conversation by not mentioning your pillow adventures.
5. 'F^23 idiot sh%@, you know nothing about…'

Look, someone can swear on the Internet!

The worst thing this does, no matter whether we’re on the side of the angels or on the side of wherever ANN7 news anchors get “trained”, is make us switch-off. If I’m wrong, why would I take seriously someone swearing at me? I’m under no obligation to listen to you when you’ve conveyed no sense of wanting to treat me with some measure of respect.

Or, at the very least, you can be creative in your hatred.

Anyone can compare me to male genitalia. But not everyone can say my writings are just basically Twilight in a blender (i.e. spinning nonsense); or the editor must’ve found my article on the highway because that’s where most accidents happen.

Just saying.
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