Several months ago I was reading an article on a popular sports related website regarding the behavior of a particular athlete. The article in itself was well-written by my very amateur and uncultured standards though it did appear to be quite biased in its reporting, which has become more or less the norm. However, the style of writing or the discussion of fact-reporting versus opinion-based reporting is not the focus of this post, the focus is on what was found after the article in the comments section. If you have ever taken a peak at an articles comments and actually read the title of this blog post, then you are likely nodding your head in understanding and anticipation at what I’m about to discuss. The comment section on websites is the equivalent of the Mos Eisley Spaceport in Star Wars IV – A New Hope in that “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”.
Now, before I completely begin my “opinion” piece, let me just say that not all of the comments or commenters on these websites would be heard or found within the confines of the aforementioned spaceport, but in my experience, a vast majority would. For instance, comments like “he is a disgrace to common decency and what it is to be an American”, “he is a thug”, and “kid’s a flat out punk” are just a few to describe what these commenters thought of the actions of this particular player who’s only crime was to commit an overly hard foul on another player. There were certainly more “colorful” comments on the page, but I would prefer not to repeat that type of language here. Sadly, this is the effect of giving an anonymous voice to the masses with little to no filter on what they say. Even more disappointing is that the most verbally abusive comments are seldom even related to the article and are instead directed at fellow commenters. There were the typical elementary school barrages like “your just stupid” followed by the “it is you’re, not your… you’re the stupid one, idiot” though again there were many, many more elaborate and outright hateful remarks left for all the world to see.
So, while running through the list of surprising comments, I was left to ponder exactly why I even bother reading the comments on an article if the section is riddled with such behavior. Truthfully, I find much of the banter ignorantly humorous, in my own sick and twisted way, plus there are often some very insightful and agreeable comments that can be found as your sort through the trash. This type of behavior is not isolated to only sports articles but can be found in numerous locations across the internet due in large part to the anonymity that is provided. Perhaps it is a cultural thing in which we have all become more disconnected due to the fact that technology has advanced to a point where we spend less time participating in face-to-face, personal interactions that we have become more disconnected to humanity as a whole, or it could just be that those who have always needed an outlet to spew forth filth finally have it.
With all that said, I will continue to browse the comment sections on those websites that actually allow them, though I can understand why some do not, and enjoy the sometimes humorous though often ugly banter among the masses and take note of the hidden gems I find along the way. Anonymity is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to certain things, as is the case with many of the freedoms that some share. Now, in my last two exquisite literary creations (ha!) I did not ask the thoughts of others, but given the topic in question and the fact that the comments section is indeed available, I would love to see what your thoughts and experiences (yes, I am speaking to you, my favorite viewer!) are on the subject in question?