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Tips for Not Appearing Crazy on the Internet

How conspiracy nuts, basket cases, paranoid loons, and other half wits can fool the rest of us into thinking they make perfect sense.

by
Frank J. Fleming

Bio

June 12, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Do crazy people have a right to be heard? I think they do — as long as they’re American. But even with crazy people’s well known infiltration of the internet — appearing in any blog or news comments section or online forum they can access — they still have a lot of trouble getting people to listen to them.

In a recent column, I touched on the topic of conspiracy theories, which of course brought in lots of crazy people to the comments section. As I looked through the responses, I noticed how easy it was to scan them or just read the first sentence and say, “Well, this one is a crazy person.” And lots of people scan like this, because crazy people have this habit of self-identifying on the internet that allows sane people to skip over what they have to say before even getting to the crazy point. Thus crazy people never even get heard.

The advent of the internet should be a Renaissance for crazy. Crazy people used to have to try to spread their views through poorly photocopied newsletters with weird font choices that no sane person would read. But on the internet, crazy people can put their opinions right next to those of sane people. If they can just use a little self-discipline to not immediately identify themselves as cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, they might actually get their ideas read.

Now, I’m not going to try to tell people how not to be crazy anymore. That’s a long, involved process of correctly identifying the internal things making them angry in their own psyches that they instead project onto external things. And it sounds hella boring. Instead, I’m only going to tell you how to conceal your craziness. I’m going to teach you how to take your freak flag and fold it up and put it in your back pocket. If you’re successful, people are going to have to really read your points before understanding that you’re crazy. They might even miss your crazy entirely and really consider what you have to say (e.g., “This guy makes some interesting points; maybe I should find out more about this ‘Ron Paul’ person”). Doesn’t that sound great, you social outcasts and conspiracy nuts?

I see some crazed nodding. Let’s get started.

TIPS FOR NOT APPEARING CRAZY ON THE INTERNET

Caps Lock Is Your Enemy

Look at your keyboard. On the left should be a button labeled “Caps Lock.” Now, there should be a light somewhere indicating whether the Caps Lock key is on. You want that light to be off. If you can’t find the indicator light, try typing on screen. Do you see lower case letters? If not, hit the Caps Lock key and try typing again. When you get your keyboard to the state where it normally types lower case letters, NEVER EVER TOUCH THE CAPS LOCK KEY EVER AGAIN! I can use it because I’m a professional, but you crazy people just need to leave that key alone. This tip by itself will make a lot of you look 100% less crazy.

There are basically two kinds of people who type entire comments with Caps Lock on: stupid people and crazy people. And no one wants to read what either has to say. Now, a stupid person just doesn’t notice or care that his Caps Lock key is on, and someone like that is probably not advanced enough to use the internet. Crazy people, on the other hand, intentionally put the Caps Lock on because they think the reason people haven’t been agreeing with their crazy is that they didn’t say it loud enough. This is crazy person logic, and it is wrong.

And there is another type of Caps Lock user who doesn’t capitalize whole sentences but INSTEAD capitalizes a few SPECIFIC words for EMPHASIS. Now read a sentence like that aloud, shouting every time you come to a capitalized word, and tell me you do not sound like an absolute freakin’ lunatic. This method can turn even basic known facts into crazy-sounding gibberish (“The SQUARE of the HYPOTENUSE of a RIGHT triangle equals the SUM of the squares of the OTHER two sides”).

Similarly, be frugal with your exclamation points! Not every single sentence should end in one! And never use more than one per sentence!!!!11!!eleventy11!1 If you have something useful to say, it should make just as much sense when said in a normal voice.

i can haz proper grammar?

Here’s another pretty basic one: no lolcats speak. Write actual English sentences using real words and proper grammar. Capitalize the first word of each sentence. Use punctuation. there is no reason ur comment 2 a blog or column shud look lik ur a n00b at texting. You’re not writing these things from a old cellphone with just a number pad that lacks auto-complete; there is a big keyboard in front of you.

You save like 0.1 seconds writing “u” instead of “you” at the cost of making yourself look like an absolute idiot. Is there any reason you’re trying to shave off this time? Are there wild dogs bearing down on you as you write why we need another look at Obama’s birth certificate? If so, run from the wild dogs and write your comment later. Your whole sentence shouldn’t scream, “I’m a useless idiot with nothing important to say.” You should never write like that unless you actually are a cat expressing your desire for a cheeseburger.

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