Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who goes there?

Almost nothing in this world winds me up more than the vicious cowards that abound anonymously in the netherworld of Internet comments.  And they lurk in the most unlikely places unless you understand their true nature.  There are some articles, blogs, forums, etc that you would anticipate dissenting points of view.  But the thing that really makes me wild is when people seem to go out of their way to ambush you with their nastiness.  (They hit the jackpot when someone, that meant a lot to a lot of people, dies.)  It's amazing how effective these comments can be; how quickly they sting, how long the irritation lingers.  Even when I berate myself for letting them get to me (reminding myself the comment is ignorant, petty, malicious, misspelt or all of the above) I still seethe and sometimes genuinely despair.  Speaking for myself, the anonymity that gives the power to say such things is also the thing that enrages me so.  If anyone's dumb or naive enough to actually to say it to my face - or more often than not, in my general vicinity - it's on like Kong.   For awhile I tried to combat the faceless masses, responding to them under my full name.  Showing them the courage they did not possess as well as the logic, articulateness and the wittiness they invariably also lacked.  But now I just avoid sites that make it hard for you to avoid the comment section.  I was never dignifying them with a response but I was letting them know they had been heard.  And that they had bugged me.

To be fair, most of us may have been guilty of posting an anonymous comment that was critical and verged on being scathing or a personal attack.  It's easy to go there, to sink to that level, to give that knife a twist, to teach someone a lesson.  It may not have been what you started typing but then something took over you.  Either a deliciousness wickedness or extreme irritation.  Might have been a tit-for-tat situation.  And you said something that you might not have said, had you not been obscured in the shadows.  There's an accompanying thrill, akin to saying a profanity or racial slur for the first time.  And you might have just aimlessly wandered on that web page, mostly likely bored, browsing the internet like a women's weekly.  We've all read articles about people or viewpoints we don't respect.  And we clicked on that link despite knowing it would annoy us, or maybe because we knew it would.  Then the sheer idiocy/triviality of the article content or ensuing comments might easily drive one to express our superiority.  I understand how it can happen.  But might I suggest, you desist?  I imagine that it's just a slippery slope from genuinely expressing anonymous emotions and enjoying the power of knowing that you have bummed someone out to bumming people out just for kicks.   If the Internet has shown us anything, there is nothing more viral than vitriol.

There is something on the Internet for everyone.  (Unfortunately.)  Each to their own has to be the general rule.  But if you must say something, I suggest YOU say it.  It's funny how the burning desire to say something is often doused by signing your name to it.          

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