As God Is My Witness


Our Daily Correspondent


“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” —Gone with the Wind

The clue for 2 Down on today’s New York Times crossword is as follows: “ ‘If you ask me,’ in textspeak.” Spoiler alert: the answer is IMHO. (Short for “in my humble opinion” or “in my honest opinion,” for those who didn’t know.) This is true not merely because you need those letters to satisfy the needs of mire and Amex and Sofia but because in the world of texts, and in online communication generally, people are constantly asserting their opinions with unnecessary vehemence.

Leaving aside the fact that such opinions are rarely solicited, why is everyone always sharing his “honest” or “humble” opinion? As opposed to what—the civility that normally characterizes anonymous online discussions? Because otherwise we might think you were prevaricating about, like, whether you thought some dumpling shop was overrated or one season of a show was better than another? IMHO asserts that someone is about to tell you the truth—but your veracity otherwise would never have come into question.

Speaking of vehemence of this sort, I recently ran across a very impassioned post on Chowhound. Here is what the poster said: 

The lamb was served magnificently, not just falling off the bone but fully fallen off it. Some bone, somewhere—but, as God is my witness, that meat had not fallen off that bone. The meat was artfully arranged along the bone, and, naturally, I tried to reconstruct the shank. The cubes of meat did not fit the curvature of the bone. Plus, the meat was piping hot and the bone just warm.

Now, this is a case where such rhetoric (“God is my witness”!) is appropriate, or necessary, even. It should electrify. It should stand for something. On dinner plates, in New York politics, and, especially, in textspeak.