Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Internet Pet Peeve

A quick glance at something reminded me of a pet peeve of mine on the Internet.  I don’t know if it’s a writer’s peeve or just an argument-style peeve. 

I hate it when people seem to think quoting someone and leaving means they’ve won the argument. 

Quotes from famous, admired people are just fine and dandy – when used at the head of an essay or as a *part* of an argument, but when you simply *quote famous dead guy here* and don’t add any of your *own* thoughts to it or explain why this agrees with you or supports what you want to say and use it to say everything, isn’t that what we’d call an Appeal to Authority?

Or at least uncreative. 

The same applies to the quoting of scripture for me – unless you’re answering a question about history or the work itself, if you’re using it to apply to some modern, real world argument, in my opinion, you should back up what you want to say by actually saying something yourself. 

To use a hypothetical example for something that’s not too real-world controversial, say I get into a fandom argument over the Legend of Zelda series.  Maybe it’s a Timeline argument and I’ve decided “I think the current official Timeline is bunk.**”  I could look up one of the many quotes by Nintendo officials about how they consider gameplay more important than story, but if I simply listed a favorable quote, then walked away and didn’t back it up with my own opinions, I’d feel like I’d not made a good argument.  If I use a quote not-from-me as a “You’re stupid!” or “everyone should agree with me right the hell now!” weapon, it’s even worse if I appeal to authority without saying anything of my own.  

Maybe the originator of the quote would see what I was doing and come along and say “You’re out of line, I didn’t mean it that way!” or “Yeah, I did mean it like that, but you’re using it like a club is soooo dull,”   - which, perhaps, is why so many people in serious arguments favor the words of the dead…  

So, if you’re going to whine and moan online about the existence of things, people or ideas you just wish were dead, gone or changed, or you want to call someone stupid, don’t quote some dead guy or some block of literature and think you’ve “won” because you’re so creatively dull or empty-headed that you have nothing of your own to say.

If anyone ever gets into a habit of quoting me after I’m long dead (like that would ever happen), remember, you will be doing a disservice to my memory if you depend solely on me. Use your own words to back yourself up! 

(** Zelda Timeline for those interested in my opinions on it… I kind of do think the above and don’t at the same time.  I’m willing to go with the current canon, and it has inspired some fanwork from me, but I kind of think it was an ass-pull, just because Nintendo never set out to have 16+ games when they made the first few).

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