Dear friends, tell me, are you aware of the perils of the metaphor? Do you know of all the traps simple examples can put in your way? You may think to yourself that these are simply useful tools to get a point across when writing a thesis but beware! If it gets the chance – a metaphor will eat you and your entire family!
That may be a slight exaggeration…to prove a point!
Have you ever had a brilliant notion that you wanted to share with folks around you and decided to link your hypothesis to a popular work of fiction, or anime, just to have the conversation immediately veer into a debate about the show itself rather than the larger point you were making?
Have you ever expressed a personal opinion about a general trope, and given a few examples for reference, just to have people immediately start defending or condemning each specific example one by one, sometimes on issues completely irrelevant to your original statement?
Do you, like me, completely avoid mentioning certain genres, no matter how perfectly they would illustrate what you are trying to say, because you know that if you do, your actual point will get completely buried in debates over details or emotional lashing out? Either that or your think pieces are 50% disclaimer?
I know that I get the odd comment from someone that seems to have fixated on a single line or two of my post. It often ends up being some great comments but I’m sad I’m not getting that reader’s opinion of the actual subject I was trying to discuss.
This is a pitfall that seems common to human interaction as a whole. And it makes the use of metaphors and examples very tricky. However, this gets multiplied when applied to blog posts. Unlike interactive conversations, I cannot clarify my meaning and bring the conversation back on track in real-time. But unlike traditional print media, there is a comment section, so if one reader gets preoccupied on a small detail and leaves a comment about that detail in particular, it stays there for all to see and can drive the entire conversation. Even people that wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, may now feel compelled to comment in that regard.
There are a few reasons for this. For instance, if your reader is more interested in the anime you mention than the greater point you are trying to make, their mind will naturally grab onto that. As such that’s what they will be discussing. I know I’ve been guilty of this regularly. Alternatively, if they have nothing in particular to add to the debate but know a lot about the example you used, they may feel that a comment on that will be more interesting.
You should also keep in mind your audience. After a while, we get a sense of the people who read our blog. I can tell that my readers tend to generally enjoy CGDCT titles and not be particularly interested in CBDCT shows. You guys are missing out on pure comedy gold I tell ya! I know I have to be very careful not to alienate anyone because somehow, I seem to draw the attention of people ho have very different tastes, and interests than me. This is absolutely awesome! But it does mean that I can’t expect everyone to naturally know where I’m coming from if I don’t explain it.
I just wrote that as if it’s all special and doesn’t apply to every blogger out there… The problem is slightly mitigated when you have a more niche blog that discusses more specific topics. Then the majority of your readership will tend to be a bit more similar to you. However, in general, it’s good to lay some groundwork.
Another problem with using specific titles as Metaphors is that your audience must be familiar with what you’re referencing in order for it to work. You can of course explain the story and use it a s a parable of sorts but not everyone is skilled a summarizing and you risk confusing your readers.
You could simply pick a very popular title and figure most fans will have at least heard of it. Of course, it’s those very popular titles that everyone has an opinion on, so this increases your chances of derailing the conversation.
See what mean? Perilous little beasts those metaphors. I know I’ve been using the word metaphor mostly when I mean both metaphor and example. Someone will probably explain this to me in detail….
On the other hand, though, they do spruce up an essay. Abstract monologuing can become quite dull without some specific references your readers can grab onto to give your ramblings some context. You probably don’t ramble, bit I sure do… Also, this is an anime blog. No really, it is… Hopefully my readers come here because they want to read or discuss anime related topics. It’s not the same if I don’t at least pretend to adhere to that standard.
In short, you definitely shouldn’t avoid using examples if they are relevant. Just be prepared to have your brilliant idea skipped over in favour of a heated discussion on which character wore it best or something. (That would be a great post….stealing my own idea…)
Wait, I did say this was an anime blog…um ok. Oy, know how Madoka is essentially a light precursor to Sword Art Online? It’s exactly like that but with more BnHA and not as moe.
24 thoughts on “The Hidden Dangers of Metaphors”
Happens all the time when I have a discussion on Discord. Doesn’t matter what the topic is on, but it always get derails into something entirely different. Sure I enjoy the conversations, but not if they keep going back to the same things we already discussed to death.
When not on Discord, I’ve been fortunate enough to have discussions stay on topic for the most. There is a small diversion into something unrelated, but those are rare. I must be very lucky in the conversations I talk part of online if I rarely experience any diversion them.
Interesting – I wonder what about Discord does this
The more people on Discord, the less control there is. Also depends on the server. It’s the wild west for online discussions.
I never had issues with discord myself. Interesting
“At the risk of being misunderstood” seems to be Nisioisin’s motto while writing Monogatari. (Just another reason he’s my intellectual crush)
To me, all the appeal of writing for an audience is to convey a message despite whatever preconceived ideas or prejudices that audience may have. I can’t say that I’m not annoyed when someone comments based off of the title of my post alone, while the rest of it runs totally against the title…
But I guess the fault for that lies with me being uninteresting. ):
Maybe it was that awesome a title
That’s a positive way to view it. By the way, the glass is half empty.
Hey you can only have so much vodka and the air makes it taste better!
Basically my epithet
Well, you see, about metaphors…
Seriously, though: Derailing has been part of the internet back when I joined in the early 2000s I don’t expect things to change. Interestingly, though, I’ve never considered bogs. On forums, you often have moderators who curb the worst excesses, sometimes too much for my taste. But it’s one thing for a moderater to step in, and another for a blog owner – one will be perceived as doing their job (maybe a bit overszealously, but it’s still a job), while if you do the same thing on your blog, there’s the danger you’ll come across as an “ungracious host” (or something like that?).
But, yeah, tangents are harder to deal with on a blog. Interesting. (Twitter, I assume, isn’t closely moderated? I’m not on twitter.)
Twitter is pretty much the digitation of stream of mind with tons of minds smashed together. I think it has much more potential than people give it credit for but I haven’t yet mastered how to get any practical results out of it
It can happen…but…it’s pretty much the danger with everything that is written. Text is emotionless. Sometimes someone writes a comment that is meant in an entirely different way, and someone else might interpret it totally different. But then again…I have to say in this community…I have never had any kind of comments section spiral totally out of control. Because everyone here is just totally awesome 😊
Oh the comments are totally awesome I usually get lost in them. Then like a month later I’m like wait…that’s not what I wanted to know… I reread the post – it actually says the off topic comments are often wonderful and some of the best…
Yes, all of this. The just dangerous thing about blogging is that we have no control on how the audience is going to act. We can spend all the time we want explaining everything we want to explain, but…things can easily turn out as you describe them. It adds to the fear of the unknown
Mind you it can be truly wonderful too.
True. A double edged sword then. 😁
I am guilty of most of those sins you just listed. Distraction and debate over one small part of a post you wrote with a bigger point is something I do. Sorry about that. I didn’t realize it bothered you so much.
Everyone does it – myself included. This post is actually about a twitter thread that completely buried the initial question. Did it come off as a rant rather than a musing?
Kinda yeah. An accusation even. And I admit to being That Guy. Sorry. I always took you for a Third Order evaluator of anime rather than first, like many of those who post here as anime newbies. Like me, you’ve been watching for years, but unlike me you’ve missed a lot of shows so mentioning them and their similarities to the new stuff you’re commenting on seemed like it was appropriate. Unfortunately, if you already knew or didn’t care then it comes off as distracting and your fans who don’t care about the older shows, complain I’m off topic or overly familiar. We are similar ages, after all, and qualify as peers. As a librarian I am professionally obligated to suggest similar reading/viewing and its good practice for me, as well as a chance to recommend something the patron would like. That would be you, and all your readers. And some of the suggestions I’ve made you said added to your backlog queue, which means the suggestions were successful.
it wasn’t either and don’t worry aout it – I hadn’t really noticed.
Have you ever seen Moyashimon? It was the inspiration for Silver Spoon. Its about a guy who can see bacteria and goes to agricultural college in a rural part of Tokyo. A very weird story, but was intentionally done as educational tv.
I haven’t even seen silver spoons
Agriculture high school in hokkaido. Won awards.
Silver Spoon is a good show about a high school for agriculture in interior Hokkaido. The students study farming and animal husbandry, including raising and slaughtering. They eat what they grow. Its actually a serious show at times, with important subtext delivered in the more light-hearted background of dealing with cowshit and horses and chickens. A good series and won some awards. Two seasons, too.