It's that feeling you get when you walk away from an exchange with someone. You've had a discussion or an argument, they gave one last remark that was pretty good, and you either responded with a lame comment or no comeback at all.
And just as you start up the staircase it comes to you - the perfect riposte. The most elegant argument ever, that would certainly that other #*$%! down if you could have but said it to them. But, since you are already on the staircase, it is far too late to say it. And you must go on forever, knowing that you lost an opportunity to shut down a #$*$%!
Delivering a great comeback is a rare, wonderful thing. One of the best was Wilkes' return to Montagu:
Montagu - "Sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox."
Wilkes - "That will depend, my lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
|Not much to look at, but he did have game.|
Can't you just imagine the shocked gasp, followed by applause, followed by the surging exaltation in Wilkes' spirit? Yeah! Told him! Take that, Montagu, you ass! Buh-bye!
However, with social media there is less and less mal d'escalier. A lag in response times, as well as an opportunity to edit my own remarks gives me the ability to sound wittier than I really am. So, when I post on Facebook or Twitter, I can phrase my comment exactly how I want it. I can type it out, edit it, look up a reference, and send my little comment out into the world.
|Online troll; actual photo. Only the wooden paneling of mom's basement is missing.|
It's for that reason that I stay away from those (and I use the term loosely) discussions. They are sometimes like an unending Fibonacci sequence, stopping only when the thread is buried with thankfulness on all sides by another discussion that is just as useless.
I don't mean that ALL social media is like that, of course. I do think, though, that a) chatting online makes me sounds more intelligent than I really am and b) online arguments can be meaningless and endless. It's sad, but there you are.
So, if you ever meet me in person, don't expect the urbane cosmopolite who writes on this blog. I'm just as wizened as the next fellow.