Internet comments and the “candid clarifier”

There is a kind of response that happens in some internet comments sometimes – I’m going to call it the ‘candid clarifier’.

If the piece of writing is in anyway even mildly controversial it will invariably provoke at least one, probably several, of what I call the ‘candid clarifier’ comment. This type of comment will often say things like “Yes, but…” or “That may be true, but also…” and end up stating trivial (and often unspoken) omissions in a rote and mechanical way, as though clarity were somehow achieved by piecing together bite-size ‘facts’ and by seeing from all directions. Reminiscent of the journalistic “view from nowhere”, this commenter behaves as though seeing all perspectives at once were not only valid, but as if that decision itself were not a discursive (and often distracting!) tactic.

Being an earnest, candid clarifier is one of the most banal, perhaps even damaging ways one can contribute to a discussion online – if it even is contribution.