Skepticism

How To Be Taken Seriously: A Guide to Expressing Your Opinion

We all have opinions which we can hold to high degrees of passion, and with the advent of the Internet it makes the expression of opinions we may agree or disagree with more easier. As such, I don’t think it’s too big a surprise at all when we find somebody whose opinion isn’t the same as ours whether it be about a political issue, a moral or ethical dilemma, or even a criticism of a favourite book.

This post has been inspired by a large influx of commenters on certain posts dealing with a certain topic which they passionately disagree with us on, but I won’t be mentioning that topic further since I’ve already said all that I want to say about it. What I do care enough about to address is how their arguments could have been presented in a way that would make them sound like they have some degree of intelligence, thus allowing them to be taken more seriously.

Look, we all want people to listen to us and consider our ideas, but people won’t always listen to you. If people seem to be unimpressed with your intelligence, even if you’re right, you might want to consider what you’ve been doing that’s been keeping them from taking you seriously.

Let’s imagine a scenario where somebody has said something you disagree with. Let us, for this purpose, pretend that you are a pious Christian and that somebody says that they think we should remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. You passionately disagree with this idea. Which do you think would be the comment most likely to sway the holder of that opinion?

Comment A:

OMG wut is wrong wit u?! dont u have anything better 2 do then get ur panties tied in a not over sumting lyk dis? u r so gay!!!!! i m just rite and u r wrong k? u disgust me u deserve to go 2 hell!!!!!!!!!11111111111 ahtiests r ruinin dis country all athiests r gay fags!!!!!!!11 lyk OMG

Comment B:

I AM SO OFFENDED BY THIS!!!!!!!! I AM REALLY PISSED RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!! THIS IS A CHRISTIAN NATION!!!!! GO TO HELL!!!!!!! U ARE WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111!!!!!!

Comment C:

I think that the phrase “under God” should remain in the pledge. There isn’t actually a separation of church and state since the constitution doesn’t actually say anything about a separation between church and state. I appreciate the phrase “under God” because I believe that our nation is protected by God and that we should respect Him so that he can make our country great.

You may disagree with what’s being said in all of them, however I think you’ll find that the comment you’re most likely to be willing to consider correct is Comment C. It’s probably because of these reasons:

  1. Comment A contains poor grammar and spelling. Yeah, yeah, my posts aren’t always perfect, I’ve been known to mix up there, their, and they’re, I do a lot of run-ons, but it certainly looks more intelligent than when you’re righting lyk dis omg, lol. The definition of literacy is people over the age of 15 who can read and write, and the literacy rate of the United States is 99% (I thought it was lower) so I know that you are capable of doing better. Why choose to make yourself look like an idiot?
  2. Comment B has Caps Lock on and excessive use of the exclamation mark which makes it look like you’re REALLY ANGRY AND SHOUTING ALL THE TIME AND ABOUT TO KILL SOMEBODY WITH YOUR BARE HANDS!!!!!!! Really, if you can’t come across as calm in your writing you won’t come across as reasonable.
  3. Comments A and B contain personal attacks. These are entirely pointless. For one thing, if you’re like me and you know who you are then telling me that I’m gay isn’t going to change my mind and make me think that I am (I think I might be bisexual, actually). Even if I weren’t “cool” that would have no bearing on whether my arguments were correct or not. Look, if you don’t care about expressing your opinion or proving your point and want to be insulting, could you at least try something a little bit more creative than “ur so gay f*** u  b****”. Those could be hurled at anybody and be just as meaningless. How about “you lamentably witless creature, how I pity your crass inability to participate in any form of rational discourse due to your painfully obvious lack of literacy. I’ve met dolphins with a more impressive intellect than you. Please crawl back to your slum and rot there, or get a fifth grade education.”
  4. I don’t know how many times I’ve stressed this on here, but the best way to sound reasonable is to not just say “you’re wrong!” but to say “you’re wrong because…” and give your reasons. That way people can either be persuaded that you’re correct or get somewhere by refuting your reasons. With “YOU’RE WRONG” you get nowhere but with “you’re wrong because there’s no separation between church and state” the other person can refute you by linking you to, say, a Wikipedia article, or by citing a book, or whatever, and you can continue your argument from there.
  5. Use the dictionary. If a person you’re talking to online uses a word you don’t know, don’t say “lolwut will u dumb dis down for me?” Grab a dictionary, or go to Dictionary.com, or, better yet, find out if your school has an online subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary. If you can understand big words, and if you can use big words properly you look intelligent, but not if you pretend you know what those big words mean. It’s even okay to admit that you don’t understand the words because it at least makes you look like you’re not wilfully ignorant. I can respect stupid people who truly want to learn, not stupid people who want to remain ignorant.

Why should you listen to my advice? Well, it boils down to this: do you want people to think that you’re intelligent, or do you want to be laughed at?

I understand that you’re passionate, but when expressing this passion you’ll get further with good grammar, calm writing, and some level of politeness (which I’ll admit I slip up on more often than I should) than you will with making yourself sound as angry as possible. The more thought you put into what you write the more thoughtful you appear, and the more thoughtful you appear the more intelligent you appear.

If u want 2 typ lyk dis 4 da rest of ur life, lyk lol that’s fine by me, but don’t be surprised when you wander onto a website like Teen Skepchick and everybody laughs at you. It may be a personal attack, but I won’t stop anybody from calling you a “stubborn git” if it’s true.

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10 Comments

  1. scottelittle
    January 5, 2009 at 3:11 pm —

    Bravo. But if people actually responded intelligently how would we be entertained?

  2. Protesilaus
    January 5, 2009 at 3:31 pm —

    Damn, I was expecting a compilation of Twilight rejected comments. The two things that seem to annoy the most people are religion and the movie Twilight. Without these two things we could possibly have world piece.

  3. January 5, 2009 at 3:35 pm —

    I don’t know… It’s just… Stupid responses are so much fun too read. ^_^

  4. phlebas
    January 5, 2009 at 4:53 pm —

    OMG WHY U TAKE IT SO SERIUS?? I HAV 1ST AMINDMENT RITES SO I CAN SAY WHUT I WANT SO DONT DIFFUSE URSELF UR SO BI JK LOL

    FLEBIS
    XXXOOO LOL

  5. MaggieMoo
    January 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm —

    ok…..is it a little odd that a carefully consider my comments on here to the point of rewording at least eight times? Then again, I do that on youtube also…..

    yay for rampant nerdyness!!

  6. January 5, 2009 at 8:23 pm —

    What a good post. I’m going to spam links to this post wherever I can think of.

  7. January 5, 2009 at 8:46 pm —

    Very good!

    Except I prefer to call people who type funny and call other people names the ad hominum moniker of “mondoweenie.” “Stubborn git” sounds so refined.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  8. kayla_unkempt
    January 5, 2009 at 9:50 pm —

    YES.

    That’s all I can say… you put that all together very nicely.

  9. Cassie
    January 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm —

    *laughs madly on floor*

  10. MaggieMoo
    January 6, 2009 at 7:01 pm —

    oh! and I stole part of the more refined insult and stuck it on my facebook page! (citing my source of course 😛 )

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