So you start reading a book, article, essay, poem, whatever, and you’re thinking, “this will enrich my life in some way.” And then you get to some word, phrase, sentence, or idea that makes you go, “Nope! This is actually not worth my time.” What flips that switch for you*?
“Flyover country.” Use this phrase unironically, and I’m done with you. Also, as a resident of “flyover country” I will use my influence to stop our next shipment of food to you.
“Virtue signaling.” I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a person or written piece that used this phrase (unironically) that was worth further interaction. I accept that some people are hypocrites or poseurs, and they deserve criticism for that. But the phrase “virtue signaling” is just a shibboleth for douchebags.
Quoting The Art of War. This may just be peculiar to my field, information security. But when I start reading an article in a security publication, and the writer quotes the Art of War, I know it’s a shit article. “As Sun Tzu said, ‘Know your enemy’!” Well, as Winston Churchill said, “Good day, sir!”
OK, what makes you say, “Yeah, actually, fuck this.”
*NOTE: The rules are, you begin reading with reason to believe the work will be useful, or at least entertaining, but something in it makes you change your mind. So, please no answers like “It appears in publication XYZ” or “It was written by so-and-so”. Presumably those factors would prevent you from even starting to read it.