The Scathing Takedown RulesS

Sometimes—as freedom fighters from George Washington to Che Guevara would affirm—the words and deeds of a person become so intolerable the it becomes necessary to write a scathing takedown of them, on the internet. This is our world.

But, like any dangerous weapon, scathing takedowns should not be deployed against children. The 12 year-old making the painful Bieber love videos; the 16 year-old posting painful high school poetry; these are not legitimate targets of public shame. So how do we decide when a victim is of fair age for a proper takedown?

1. They absolutely must be 18.
2. Really they should be 21. Come on, we're all dumb at 18.
3. Really we're all dumb at 21, also. Here's where it gets tricky!
4. Let's say that, to be on the safe side, you shouldn't scathingly attack someone unless they're, hmm, 23? A couple of years in "the real world" to "learn what's what" should eliminate any legitimate excuses, yes?
5. So we'll set 18 as the hard deck, and 21 as the recommended floor, and 23 as the soft floating mattress. But that's not all! All scathing takedowns cannot be meted out in the same manner for all subjects.
6. The harshness of a takedown should be predicated upon the relation of the subject's age to your age. Since takedowns are inherently judgmental condemnations, it's only fair to allow for the possibility that the subject of your takedown simply has not had sufficient time on earth to accumulate all of the wisdom that you are so harshly bestowing upon them. Therefore, a 30 year-old writing a takedown of a 25 year-old should write with only 5/6 intensity; a 40 year-old writing a takedown of a 30 year-old should write with 3/4 intensity; and so on. If someone is your age or older, you should feel free to write with 100% intensity, due to the fact that they have had just as much time as you to accumulate wisdom and learn not to do or write stupid things. This applies until someone has reached an age old enough to start to take into consideration the fact that they may be becoming doddering, senile, or hopelessly out of touch, through no fault of their own. At that point you should revert to the rules that apply to writing about children.

* It's also worth noting that any haughty takedown of those younger than you that you write at any age whatsoever will become a source of mortifying embarrassment at your own unearned aura of self-regard when you look back at it only a few years later.

[Photo via M Yashna/ Flickr]