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Article Specs

VxAcct: 1

Article ID: 5517

Section: wrenwalker

Age Group: Adult

Posted: February 24th. 2003

Views: 11081

Nits, Twits and Wits

by Wren

Well now, aren't you the clever one? Lesser beings than your esteemed self may have overlooked it, but not you! Nosiree, no one can pull the wool over your eyes. You know that your quarry is in there somewhere and you are determined to drag it out from its burrow. You scan the terrain again. Sure enough, you find the telltale tracks and begin to follow them. Ah-ha! Gotcha!

Congratulations. You have just scored one really big and nasty Nit!

Whoa! Just look at that thing! Man, that is one ugly Nit Monster that you have picked up there, my friend. We don't know how we could have overlooked it. Thank you ever so much for pointing that sucker out. Who knows what sort of havoc that it might have wreaked if you had not stepped forward to save us from ourselves? It is people like you who make the world a safer and saner place for the rest of us. What ever would we do without you?

Nits are such baneful critters, aren't they? They'll ruin everything if we let them go unpicked. That otherwise fine article on a Pagan group doing some sort of charity work would have set civilization back a few thousand years if someone skilled in the art of nitpicking hadn't had the fortitude to point out the one small flaw in terminology. If that particular Nit hadn't been properly rounded up, would've made us all look very bad, now wouldn't it? A narrow escape indeed!

Nitpicking is more than a hobby for some people; it is a career. Some folks -- like trivia writers and fact-checkers -- even make a pretty decent living doing it. But most nitpickers will do it for free. The qualifications for the job are pretty simple. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition. 2000) reveals that any "minute, trivial, unnecessary, and unjustified criticism or faultfinding' will get your job application approved. Prior experience helpful, but not necessary. Anyone can do it.

And most of us have from time to time. Those Nits are just such tempting little targets. But why do we like nitpicking so much anyway? And why do we do it?

Aside from the relative ease of picking a nit -- and the often-considerable personal entertainment derived from doing so -- nitpickers generally fall into one of two categories. The first sect of Nit hunters is legitimately concerned about a particular issue. The other wants to lure you away from that issue. Luckily, it is a fairly simple task to tell them apart.

The legitimate NP (Nit Picker) will announce him or herself. "I am about to nitpick here..." is one popular opening line. He/she will state which sections (or how much of an article, book, movie or magickal ritual, etc.) is pretty much a nit-free zone before hauling out the nits that he/she did find. "This article (book, movie) was generally a pretty good depiction of (whatever), but here are one or two problems (nits) that I had with it... These nits did not invalidate the entire premise or point, but it could have much better if only..." And some constructive criticism or research material or fine points will follow. The legitimate Nit Picker seeks to enhance or further define some points or to correct a factual error, but does not divert attention away from the issue at hand.

The NT (Nit Twit) on the other hand, may not be so open about his/her intentions. He or she will simply breeze in unannounced and will not only point out that just one such nit "obviously" spoils the entire book, movie, article or ritual, but also goes on to recommend that the breeder of that Nit had best get out of town and never even think about coming back. Some sort of self-righteous tirade may also be involved and the use of condescending sarcasm is common. The whole thing is a mess, he/she says, and aren't you glad that he/she was here to keep us all from looking stupid, gullible and altogether 'nitty'? The subject can now be turned to a topic of the Nit Twit's choosing and soon the original issue is forgotten as everyone begins to scuffle over the Nit Twit's red herring. The Nit Twit (or the NT's issue of choice) is now the center of attention and that was his/her intention all along. Ah...another Nit successfully executed!

There is one more hunter of the Nit that we have not examined as yet. This aficionado of Nitology must possess great skill, impeccable timing and/or a certain subtle grace. Of course, we are talking here about the loveable Nit Wit. The NW can find a Nit of little or no consequence and lift it to new heights. This is all done with no malice and with a great deal of humor. Often used to deflect rancor directed at the Nit Picker -- or to point out the foibles of the Nit Twit -- the Nit Wit can deftly steer the audience or participants back to the original issue as if by magic. All -- except possibly the Twit who realizes that he/she has been most cleverly outmaneuvered -- may have a good chuckle.

Nitpickers should not be confused with critics and/or judges. It is rather simple to tell them apart after reading their job descriptions. Nitpickers examine minute, trivial and sometimes unnecessary points of an issue. A critic "considers the merits and demerits of {an issue} and then judges accordingly" and a judge "forms an opinion or estimation of (an issue} after careful consideration". Nutshell version: Critics and judges address the big picture; nitpickers are interested in only a few defined points.

So the next time that someone approaches you carrying one of those big nasty old Nits, feel free to take a good long look. Nits are fascinating critters. And the legitimate NP and/or NW can often point out some of the finer details inherent in Nitology that you may have otherwise overlooked...

Like how to better outwit that Twit with the Nit.

Wren Walker
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, February, 24th., 2003



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