I think those who read this blog three years ago can agree that, on the whole, I've been a much kinder, more patient person than I used to be. I've tried to resist the sort of ranting posts I used to write, I've gotten much better in handling trolls and I haven't had a flame war on this blog in a long, long time.
I do have my triggers, however. We all do. One of mine is what I'll call the new reader assumption, or NRA. (what, that's an acronym for something else?)
The blog wants new readers, no doubt. New readers are the bread and butter of every writer. And it is a necessity that new readers should be welcomed, encouraged and coddled . . . as it is certain that most new readers will not have read the back-log before jumping in to comment. All the worse when that backlog is really, really long. A long back-log is bound to increase NRA.
It is even harder with my blog, as I tend to refer to myself with reckless abandon. I try, rather lazily, to link to a concept I've introduced on another post, but I fail for the most part because it doesn't occur to me that the reader doesn't know exactly what I'm talking about. That can be off-putting.
Still, every now and then an NRA pops up and I . . . well, I have to clamp down on my first response.
Let me explain what an NRA is.
It is a visitor to the Sistine Chapel having a look around while Michaelangelo is part way through and muttering, "You know what would be great here? Something about God giving life to Man. I bet you could get great ideas about that from my cousin Guiseppe."
It is a theatre manager looking over the first three pages of Shakespeare's as yet untitled Romeo and Juliet and saying, "Wow, this is great stuff ~ I can't wait for when Romeo gets it on with Bianca. What a great set up you've written here!"
It is an architect showing up at the offices of Washington Roebling seven months into the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge to explain how important it is that the bridge be built four blocks to the north. It HAS to be.
It is a kid showing up for his first day at work and taking it upon himself to spontaneously reorganize the store room, to make it better.
It is a reader who thinks they have the problems of my world solved because once they played a trade-based game in the 1980s.
It is giving an opinion without asking questions. It is formulating without investigating. It is a kind of arrogance, one that supposes that now that I am here, everything will be easy.
I struggle with this. When I started on the internet, I used to do this. Let's face it, the internet encourages this sort of behavior. I'm glad that I've left it behind. It is a terrible habit to fall into, particularly as it is almost impossible to correct from the designer's point of view.
Robert Heinlein had a great phrase for this. It's the title of this post. Sometimes, it's all we can say without screaming the fellow out of our presence.
They mean well, after all.