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How to Fake It on a Message Board When You Don't Have an Opinion


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No Opinions? No Problem

Events are taking place. Disturbing events. World-shaking events. Fortunes are at stake. Countries are at stake. The survival of the most adorable life forms on the planet are at stake. Blogs and news sites across the web host message boards yearning for your commentary.

You owe it to everyone to let them know what you think, and by extension what they should think. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people fail to register.

You may be impaired by -- among other things -- the lack of an actual opinion on the subject at hand. That's OK, opinions are filthy, malodorous things that tend to fall apart under close examination. What you need is something that appears to be an opinion without actually requiring defense, justification or rational thought.

While you're wasting time considering context and relevant factors, lesser minds are beating you to the Submit button. This simple guide to posting on message boards requires no more contemplation than is necessary to microwave popcorn.

The One-Issue Poster

You may not have an opinion about the current issue, but everyone has an opinion about something, whether it's international trade, domestic education or the way cakes in the grocery store look really good but taste like frosted teddy bear fur. Luckily, everything is connected on some tenuous level, so there's no reason to talk about things you don't care about.

The easiest approach is to blame a current or former politician for everything that goes wrong. But even if there's no conceivable connection, you can always take the digression express: "The war between Belgium and Finland only adds chaos to a world already torn by the lack of good delivery pizza in the East Bay."

The Enigma

Don't want to take a stand on a controversial issue, but are dying to contribute to the conversation anyway? Just share a single, vaguely pertinent fact. Context-free data is to an online discussion as raw meat is to a cage full of starving Rottweilers and indignant vegetarians. Say you're looking at an article about gun control. Just pop in and say, "Over 10,000 unarmed people are shot to death by criminals each year."

Are you in favor of gun control or against it? You're not saying, but people on both sides will leap to the attack. You'll be the belle of the brawl. By the way, I just made that statistic up. You can go ahead and make up your statistics, too. It just gives people more to argue about.

The In-Joker

At any given moment, approximately 400 catch phrases are circulating on the web. You don't need any actual wit to adopt one. Even if you're not up on the latest gags, you can always fall back on these standbys: "I, for one, welcome our new (subject of article) overlords." "Needs more cowbell." Or simply "Pwned!"

This serves two purposes. First, it establishes you as a hipster and wry lover of textual hi-jinks. Secondly, these jokes sometimes appear to the casual observer to be making a keen satirical point.

Note: "All your base are belong to us" is a tempting catch phrase, but resist. This phrase will mark you as dated and out of touch, at least until November 2008, when the phrase will become meta-ironically hip.

The Cynic

This is one of the easiest techniques, and one of the most powerful. Just remember this handy phrase: "What did you expect?" Did the president get caught trading endangered tiger skins for high-grade heroin? "What did you expect? Politicians are all corrupt." Did tornadoes grind Topeka into a fine, wheat-scented powder? "What did you expect? It's in the middle of tornado country." Did alien amphibians descend upon Canada and devour everyone amid bilingual pleas for mercy? "Come on, there are 100 billion stars in the galaxy. Did you really expect that not one of them would be home to carnivorous toad-people?"

Because everything you're "predicting" has already happened, nobody can prove you wrong!

You can pick just one of these techniques, or cycle through all of them. Either way, you'll have something to add to any subject, no matter how esoteric, complex or boring. Enjoy.

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