“Well, I thought I was going to do something productive today, but I guess I’m spending the rest of it doing this.”

– Me, preparing to write an entire essay in response to a commenter who suggested I don’t actually know something I actually know

I consider myself a “recovering know-it-all,” I used to be the kinda kid who would always leap at the chance to correct people or share some irrelevant piece of trivia just to let everybody know, “I know this thing and you didn’t – this is impressive.” I’ve tried to rein in this mentality as I grew up, but that part of me is still in there, desperate to have everyone know how much of a clever little boy he is.

He’s especially loud whenever I make silly little comics that may misrepresent some real life facts for the sake of humor, efficient storytelling, or just because I like it better that way. “But that’s not how it works!” my inner know-it-all tells me, “Write a worse, but more factually accurate, joke or else the internet nerds are going to think you’re dumb!” Then I just grab that pretentious little brat, shove him in the lockers of my mind, and write the comic I wanted to.

But of course, the know-it-all is right (he always has to be), and these kinds of comics always bring out the “um-actuallies” eager to prove that they do, in fact, know some incredibly basic stuff about things. “Um, actually, male bees don’t have stingers!” “Um, actually, big cats don’t care about laser pointers because they don’t hunt small prey!” “Um, actually, Hawaii is part of the United States!” (the last one was especially annoying because the comic doesn’t actually say otherwise)

And it’s made me learn something about myself – my ego absolutely cannot stand the idea of anyone, strangers or otherwise, thinking I’m ignorant of something I’m not actually ignorant about. If these comments were just along the lines of, “fun fact, contrary to this comic, X is actually Y!” then I’d be more fine with it – but these guys simply cannot express these ideas through any other means than, “Obviously, whoever wrote this comic has absolutely no idea that X is actually Y, otherwise they would never have made such a glaring mistake in their work!”

I’m usually a lurker when it comes to internet discussions – have been for my over 20 years on the internet – so I almost never respond to any comments, good or bad. But I’ve discovered that this is the most foolproof method of forcing social interaction out of me. I’m not proud of it, I fully acknowledge it’s a personal flaw of mine, but dammit, I just wanted to write a story about gay bees!

– James