Last night I looked in on Yahoo Answers for the first time in ages. Three years ago I had a few months of enforced leisure and spent some time answering questions there, mostly those from foreign learners about English grammar. I soon got fed up with the naiveté of the questions and the ignorance and stupidity of many of the answers, especially when my factually faultless and impeccably constructed contributions got thumbed down, and answers parading pole-axing ignorance were chosen by the asker as best of the bunch. Why do people who know diddly-squat about language feel free to put their oar in, I’d chunter, instead of listening modestly and attentively to those of us who know what we are talking about? Dash it; I shall start a blog instead.
Anyway, last night I found a very silly question from someone who claimed to have opened a hairdressing salon where he employed a bunch of homosexuals. He wanted to know if he should disinfect the place regularly, so that straight customers would not be driven away by the fear of contracting the HIV virus. The question struck me as so utterly benighted that I decided it was a wind-up, designed to elicit apoplectic reactions from the politically correct. I had spent the evening with a bottle of wine, corresponding with a nice but very predictable evangelical fundy street preacher from the USA. 'Evolution science depends on THEORY rather than fact, and then has an artist sketch what the prehistoric person looks like.' Anyone who can spot a flaw in her evaluation of the scientific method, answers on a post-card, please. Anyway, I was feeling the need to be bad after all this, and so contributed a misspelled bit of venom: ‘sack them faggits’, man, I don’t want no goddam faggits cuttin my hair spreddin gay disease everwhere an stuff’ feeling sure the questioner would get the point that I had seen through his trolling. Seconds later I received this self-righteous little wobbly by e-mail from someone who obviously thought the questioner in earnest: ‘you teach children? you're fowl [sic] ... i cannot belive you posted that content on an account that you have had this long...you have my pity... pity the fool i say...' I wrote back, snootily correcting his spelling and pointing out that I had written a deliberately stupid answer to a deliberately stupid question. Then I got an e-mail telling me my answer had been deleted for violation of terms of service, and two more from the Wobbler saying ‘FVCK YOU!’ [sic]. I went to his answer to the same question and flagged it as inappropriate in retaliation and…
… I came to. I realised I had just spent an evening writing to an ex-Wiccan recovered drug addict who is now high on Jesus and conspiracy theories and beyond all reason, followed by fifteen minutes replying to an egregiously stupid question, then a spiteful little spat with the pious twerp who messaged me, then pettishly marking the writer’s own answer as inappropriate simply because he had not allowed me the option of replying to his ‘fvck off’ messages. ‘Tell me this isn’t true,’ I thought. ‘Tell me it has not come to this. It has. I’m off to bed.’
Right. Any passing God-botherer is kindly requested to move on now, and not to try to save my soul for a while. Your attentions are disturbing the balance of my mind, and I’m going to be as ripe for Bedlam as you are unless you leave me alone, OK?