How to Mask Ignorance

What’s the best way to mask your own ignorance? It’s simple; you over-complicate things so that other people can’t understand them. They will naturally assume that you understand something that they don’t, and will subsequently assume that you are intelligent. The fact that people do this is almost as irritating as the fact that it works so well.

Think of that professor in college, who could have helped you understand something, but instead chose to overcomplicate it and then treat you like the biggest fool on Earth for not understanding. Writers often do the same thing to their readers. There are several different ways writers can be total jerks, and sometimes we do it without meaning to. Here are some of the categories of writer jerkiness.

The Hyperbolic Linguist – This would be the overly intellectual writer who uses giant words to make sure every reader pays due homage to his or her enormous vocabulary. The ubiquity of this issue is quite an afflictive perplexity, if you get my point. I believe that writers should write whatever they want however they want it, but at the same time they also have a certain responsibility to the readers to provide helpful communication. Your readers shouldn’t need a dictionary to understand your work.

The Nonsensical Metaphorist – These writers are like birds who fly through the glassy chambers of time, spinning webs of silver words that glisten in the branches of the trees of knowledge. God help us. The nonsensical metaphorist uses flowery language that usually doesn’t mean anything. This writer is like an artist who paints images and symbols that have no purpose, just to confuse his or her audience and make people think they’re missing some great point and that the creator must be some sort of genius, when really there is no actual meaning. Communication is the point, not an accident or a side dish or something to be avoided.

The Over-opinionated Jerk – Lastly for now, we have the over-opinionated jerk. This type of writer believes all his or her ideas are right and has no patience for other people’s thoughts or opinions. This turns writing into one-sided communication, which is not really communication at all, and it prevents both the reader and the writer from learning or gaining anything.

I’ve been all of these things before. Becoming a decent writer is a tough quest, and requires not only the ability to string a good sentence together or express a thought, but also takes humility and a deep understanding of other people. These are things you probably already know, but I’m just learning about all that writing is and all it has to offer, so you’ll have to bear with me.

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau (

All original content copyright S.D. de la Rosa, 2012.


~ by Sara on November 1, 2012.

3 Responses to “How to Mask Ignorance”

  1. I share your distaste for such writers – one can write beautifully AND intelligently without confusing the reader. It’s been done. A lot. Great post!

    Thanks for following my blog. I’m glad we found each other.

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