Sunday, January 13, 2008

Negative Creep

Back again, with a meme to complete. It arises from some comments thread in which Larry Teabag tried to pin down Paulie Hippy over the latter's definition of "negativism", a term he's fond of using.

Paulie seems to hold some weird ideas about the usefulness of blogs and what should be done with them. While I have some sympathy with his belief that people, generally, should spend more time making positive proposals than they do complaining, this strikes me as uncomfortably close to If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. That drove me up the wall when my mother said it years ago, and I'm inclined to respond with obscene gestures now.

So, I am a negativist, and I see little problem with being one. That's as much as I have to say on the subject, since Dsquared has already said it far better than I could.

Anyway, Larry wanted me to come up with seven things of which I'm in favour. I could use this for a short, sharp, witty post stuffed with absurdities, but I'm in more of a drawn-out, rambling, hectoring jeremiad mood... so I'll go with some basic beliefs I've formed after years of arsing about online.

1) I am strongly in favour of everybody chilling the fuck out.

It doesn't matter what the situation is, it's guaranteed that some joker will be mining it for maximum political benefit. Regardless, unless the story is Sky To Fall Tomorrow, the sky is not falling and it's probably worth calming down a bit. Which leads me to...

2) I'm in favour of bloggers recognising their own essential fartiness.

Even if the sky is falling, it will likely be indifferent to your deeply-held antipathy towards it.

3) I urge everyone to say exactly what they mean without dicking about.

e.g. "I favour strong action against terrorists," when you actually mean "I favour massive bombardment of heavily-populated urban areas, even if it doesn't actually kill many terrorists."

Or, "British workers must become more flexible to enliven the economy," when you mean "British workers must take pay cuts, work longer hours, sacrifice holidays and be prepared to move house at the drop of a hat."

Respect, as they say, goes both ways - it's basic good manners to assume that your readers are intelligent enough to notice attempts to sugarcoat unpalatable suggestions. This is why I started The Encyclopedia of Decency - not because the subjects were the worst for disingenuous bullshit, but because they disseminate it in such large quantities and don't get called on it nearly often enough. However...

4) I'm in favour of self-awareness, because nobody is perfect.

I'd like to think that my opinions were formed in the spirit of even-handedness and unbiased thought. Sadly, I suspect they're little more than a half-assed bundle of prejudices and wishful thinking, and that others may be similarly deficient. This is why we occasionally do and say stupid things, and I'm inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt for one-off acts of random daftness. Thus...

5) I'm strongly in favour of hot sauce, for the chilli is a divine gift handed down to humanity by the creator himself.

6) I'm in favour of general civility...

... but there are plenty outright malignant shits online, and the correct response to them is mockery. The author of this book is a prime example, but there's far, far worse out there. And finally...

7) I'm strongly in favour of short blog posts, and this one has gone on long enough.

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