Irony in action – Explaining your “This” comment in a follow-up comment

Irony in Action

I read a post the other day where one of the commenters wrote that single word at which we’ve all learned to cringe: This.

I cracked up when that same commenter then immediately posted another comment to explain that by using the single word This she meant not that she had actually gone through the same experiences the original poster had gone through, but that the original post resonated with her.

Explaining This in a follow-up comment certainly defeats the purpose of using it as a single word comment in the first place, doesn’t it? Here’s how it might be similarly misapplied to various blog articles:

Article on cigars as an instrument of fellowship among younger Christians. Comment:


Follow-up comment:

By “This” I meant not that I am a young cigar aficionado. Rather, I meant that freedom in Christ must be carefully exercised so as not to bring disrepute on the name of Jesus, nor to flaunt our privileges so as to cause needless dissension in the body or cause immature believers to question their own choices in their walk with God or become legalistic and judgmental in their relationship with more mature believers. I also meant to echo Sigmund Freud’s sentiment that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Article on the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation on the likelihood of Southern Blacks to cooperate with Union troops. Comment:


Follow-up comment:

By “This” I meant not that I have ever been a slave in the Confederacy and so understand their response to President Lincoln’s decision to issue the controversial proclamation, nor that I have ever been a Union soldier fighting in that war. Rather, I meant that the strategic importance of the proclamation is instructive for America today in determining our role in foreign internal conflicts, allowing us to consider what effect such official declarations might have on the participants on various sides of the issues.

Article on the correlation between parents spending time with their children and the ability of those children to experience security in their home life and in interactions with society at large. Comment:


Follow-up comment:

By “This” I meant not that I am a parent, nor that I have any recollection of my childhood whatsoever. In fact, when it comes to society at large I admit that I am a complete outcast with neither the desire nor the ability to understand what other people mean when they speak of having a relationship with anyone, let alone with their parents or children.

I don’t even understand what the original article was about. I only came to this website because I thought it had Dairy Queen coupons.

Speaking Plainly

William Penn, a religious and political leader in colonial America, said:

Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end  of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood.

I think a number of present-day politicians and religious leaders could learn a thing or two from William.

The Bible makes clear that we are to speak plainly, too. As Jesus said, yes and no are each acceptable ways to express oneself. (Matthew 5:37.) His brother James reiterated this point as well. (James 5:12.) Short and sweet.

Do some things require more words than others? Sure. There’s a difference between a brief parable such as “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33) and the rather lengthy Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:3-7:27.)

But in each instance Jesus said what he meant. As his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we should do the same.

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18 Responses to Irony in action – Explaining your “This” comment in a follow-up comment

  1. Jeannie says:

    Ha ha, I love … uh, this. I never saw “This” being used to mean “Yes, yes, I totally resonate with every single sentiment you’ve expressed here” until I started exploring the blogosphere. Thank goodness it hasn’t infiltrated most other public discourse — yet. Maybe I’ll use it to save time marking student assignments: if I read a really good paper, I’ll just write, “Yes. This.” Let them figure it out!

    • Tim says:

      Even Twitter allows for more than 4 characters. Let’s hope “this” will pass. Or hope for a surfeit of follow-up explanatory comments.

  2. Aimee Byrd says:

    Love the William Penn quote. Good advice for me to hear. Thanks, Tim.

  3. Adriana says:

    Let me explain why I responded with merely, “This.”

    When I typed “This.” I was sitting at my computer with my eyes glazed over. I was slurping coffee as I read a few blog posts to try to warm up my brain for the day.

    Last night I was up late helping one of my children process some back-to-school anxieties, another process an unrequited crush, another cope with some chigger bites and the extraction of a splinter in his toe, another who was convinced he had a fever (but didn’t), and a baby who climbed out of her crib 15x between 10PM and Midnight.

    During the night (around 3AM), one of my children wet the bed. I changed the sheets while I put the him in a warm bath. After the bed was ready, he did not want to get out of the warm bath, so he cried a lot. Once all was settled and I finally dozed back off I awakened (around 4AM) to the charming sound of Baby laughing in her sleep. Which was sweet, of course, but also bemusing since she cried herself to sleep after Mama had told her “No-no!” 15X (as I said before). The alarm clock went off at 5AM. I got up to make breakfast and lunch for my husband before he left for work.

    So back to “this.” Something about this post resonated with me, but I could not for the life of me articulate what it was . . .

  4. Rob says:

    “I only came to this website because I thought it had Dairy Queen coupons.”


  5. Katie says:

    So…where are our Dairy Queen coupons, Tim? 😉

    Excellent post as usual.

  6. KSP says:

    Basic grammar: “this” is an article not a noun. Works just as poorly as a comment, as you point out so effectively!

    • Tim says:

      And apparently some people think they can use “this” in place of an entire blog article, Karen. Oh, you meant “article” as in a determiner that precedes a noun. Never mind.

  7. Indefinite antecedent.

    ^That. About “this.”

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