It must be said that the author of this rant could spell, punctuate, and adhere to the basics of Standard English. But while the grammar and syntax may hold together, what strikes me as remarkable is the author's diction. What I find is an emptiness, an absence of original language, an almost total dependence upon clichés and half-clichés, propaganda from the right and the left, slogans and empty phrases we have read and heard so many times before.
George Orwell wrote about the abuse of language and politics, most famously in his essay "Politics and the English Language." Orwell was not analyzing, I realize, the writing of a crazed man bearing a hundred grudges, but his essential thesis may be relevant to this case.I take issue with Clark's comment on Orwell—who was, in my opinion, indeed analyzing the writings of many crazed men bearing a hundred grudges.
But I agree that Stack's note is indeed a sorry collage of clichés and catchphrases, and it's both ironic and sad that the poor man couldn't get beyond them. If he had, perhaps he could have thought through his situation more clearly and resolved it less violently.
The note, as Clark observes, sounds like a million blog posts; go to memeorandum and you'll find an up-to-date compendium of them, all expressed with passionate sincerity.
And that raises an issue for all webwriters, whether we're writing commercial copy or personal blogs: How can we avoid the online version of Newspeak?
Newspeak, you'll recall, was a language specifically and successfully designed to shut down consciousness. Instead, you could simply quack the current party line without thinking at all. If you were really good at it, you'd get the accolade of being a "doubleplusgood duckspeaker."
The consciousness of the typical web surfer is not often fully engaged with the content of a site: We skim and scan, looking for visual and semantic jolts. We're impatient with long, sequential reasoning. And it's physically uncomfortable to try to read long, sequential text online.
So we cheer up when we read prefabricated text with familiar expressions, especially if it delivers jolts in the addictive way that salted peanuts deliver sodium chloride.
Webwriters can easily deliver doubleplusgood ducktext—especially if they've been reading mostly such text for the last few years. In effect, the writer is semiconscious and so is the reader. That may even be the best way to talk and think about some really crappy product, service, or idea.
Better to rouse oneself to full consciousness, struggle to find the precise word or phrase, and use it to wake up one's readers. They may not thank us for it, like some of Clark's commenters, but in general it seems to me better to be pissed off and wide awake than to be pissed off in your sleep...and then to wake up between cold, wet sheets.