Category Archives: Pet Peeves

It’s always the little things that annoy us the most.

Hostage situation

Recently (or maybe not so recently by the time you read this), terrorists launched a few simultaneous attacks in Paris. Many of us, after hearing the news, would have feelings of horror, anger, confusion, and all kinds of bad stuff. For me, this sparked an old thought.

 

Hostage situations aren’t unusual, especially in popular media. I’ve always wondered how effective it actually is.

As far as I know, the policy for hostage negotiation is to not immediately give in to the hostage-taker’s demand. If not everyone else would start taking hostages if they want stuff, like becoming the next prime minister. So if you’re going to take someone hostage, it’s going to take awhile, and you’ve gotten yourself into that situation, your life is basically in the negotiating team’s hand. Refuse to budge? They could just look at the greater good and kill you at the cost of a few hostages’ life. Then not only did you not get what you want, you dragged other people down with you too.

And that’s when negotiation teams are dealing with ransom demands and stuff. What about more personal matters?

 

At some point, we would have seen a scene where someone takes a hostage, usually when the hostage-taker’s outnumbered and wants to get out. When I see this, I wonder, what if the hostage just drops to the ground? The hostage-taker actually needs the hostage alive the most, because the human shield is the only thing standing in between the hostage and a lot of angry people. Doesn’t a hostage become a burden instead?

Even harmless hostages can attract very not-harmless avenging siblings.

Even harmless hostages can attract very not-harmless avenging siblings.

Then again, most hostages value their lives too much to become dead weight to the hostage-taker and risk getting killed, so it evens things out. I wonder if there’s a scene out there where the hostage-taker ended up in an even worse position because he/she grabbed a hostage.

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Fiction Pet Peeves: Unnaturally Immature Adults

There are adults who are actually big kids who never actually grew up, then there are mature adults who do things or react like kids for no particular reason. This pet peeve is aimed at the latter.

I don’t know about you, but I feel very weird when I see ‘mature and capable’ adults teasing each other by say ‘X and Y are sitting on a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G’. Unless there’s a special setting that produces unnaturally immature adults (like a setting where the omnipresent government takes great pains to eliminate responsibilities and hardships from the lives of their people), reading scenes like the one above just makes me think that the writer’s just a kid trying to fill an adult’s shoes.

Of course, this is different from adults who fawn over ‘kiddy things’. That’s just the natural growth curve where kids find kiddy things fun, teens are too grown up for stuff like that, and adults want to relive their childhood. Don’t judge. We’ll get there eventually.

Fiction Pet Peeves: After Five Minutes

How long is ten minutes? One minute? 30 seconds? If you actually took a stopwatch and timed yourself, counting the seconds without looking at anything, chances are, you won’t arrive at the same figure as your stopwatch.

Unless you practice playing the 30 second game, then it’s a different story.

Most of us don’t have a solid grasp on time. Time stretches and squeezes depending on lots of things. So it gets on my nerve when characters in a book think things like:

After 5 minutes…

I waited for 10 minutes….

One minute later…

I would understand if someone thinks, ‘A few seconds later…’. A few seconds can be anything from 2 seconds to 60 seconds. But 5 minutes… How often have we said that we’ll only need one minute, and ended up using up five?

Of course, the author might be trying to portray the POV (Point of View) character as an unreliable narrator, but in real life, how often do we count the seconds going by?

So, what started this in the first place?

Some time ago, I read a story with some scenes told through the point of view of a 8/9/10-year-old boy. For some reason, if there was a gap between one action and next, there would almost always be an ‘After X minutes’ inserted between the two. Would a 8/9/10-year-old really care so much about accuracy?

Not that being accurate is bad. Characters who have been shown to be very time conscious can pull this off, but it’s hard to believe that a kid would keep such strict track of time. And it gets tiring after awhile. There should be more interesting ways to show the passing of time.

Isabel Caves

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