Sunday, April 19, 2009

LAZY SUNDAY #67: THE COMMENT THREAD

The thing that sets the inner tubes apart from virtually all other forms of media, maybe except for talk radio, is its ability to be interactive. Oh, you could always write a letter to the editor, that might or might not get printed, maybe or maybe not in an unedited form, sometime sooner or later – and often well after your point or the issue that prompted it had dropped from the Public consciousness and even your own list of things you actually gave a shit about.

The internet is different. You can be getting your two cents out there before whoever posted their own opinion has had a chance to get up from the computer, stretch and take a pee.

And not only do you get to comment on the original writer’s opinion, you get to comment on the other comments as well as the commenters, their friends, their family, their life style choices and whether or not they should have access to what’s obviously you and the planet Earth’s personal private stash of Oxygen.

It’s been often said that “Opinions are like a**-holes, everybody’s got one.” and when you start writing a blog one of the first things you notice is how many a**-holes there really are in the world.

Not you guys reading this, of course! You people are just about the smartest, kindest, most personable and apparently good-looking audience a guy like me has any right to deserve. Among fellow bloggers, I regularly refer to you as “All that Heaven will allow”.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Differences of opinion (and just about everything else) are a fine thing. They make life interesting and/or challenging. And hearing somebody else’s take on a position you’ve taken can be enlightening or humbling in a lot of wonderful ways. The more we honestly intermingle, the sooner we’ll reach a consensus that probably works mostly well for most of us on anything.

Last week, I had a couple of guys respond in the comments thread to a video I posted on a fairly high-minded topic. And then they responded to each other in a way that was entertaining and enlightening not only to anybody reading their thoughts, but to the writers themselves. And that was very cool.

And I’m sure that’s the way the guys who invented the inner tubes thought it would all go.

But make the mistake of clicking on the comment threads of any newspaper story on even something as mundane as pet ordinances and before you’ve gone down half a page, you discover it’s all connected to and/or the fault of the middle east, homosexuals or The Obama. Empowered by anonymity and untethered from any need to be civil, people are capable of creating bile the stomach of a Vulture couldn’t secrete.

It’s a situation that could cause you to lose your faith in humanity, or what remained of it after you’d spent the day moderating the hate speech out of what gets submitted to your own blog comment threads.

A couple of days ago, the dependably sophomoric guys at College Humor released one of the most brilliant insights into our inability to use this amazing interactive tool to actually interact.

I hope it restores your faith in humanity’s ability to at least laugh at itself as much as it did mine.

Feel free to comment. And enjoy your Sunday.

6 comments:

Trevor B. Cunningham said...

I did an awfully long rant about this as well. The 'haters' are a part of democracy, bumps, warts and all. Those of us who blog or try to keep ourselves informed will suffer it. When it starts to knock you for a loop, I take a break from the computer and online community altogether. Otherwise someone is libel to be read in the paper(online) about me, having secured myself in some 'bell tower' somewhere and started shooting at random. I can only imagine the 'comment section' if that happened.

Giving voice to the trolls (the Internet equal to the lunatic on a street corner with a jiffy-marker, too much time on their hands and wearing a sandwichboard declaring: Honk If You Think The End is Near)will always be the bane of online comments.

Here is my long winded piece.

http://secretlabx.blogspot.com/2008/12/rise-of-swine.html

Clint Johnson said...

I am a very opinionated person and am rather quick on the draw to comment on pretty much anything I read, see or hear. I like to think that I balance that irritating quirk with unfailing politeness and respect for other folks right to an opinion. And I have yet to meet anyone who I thought was entirely wrong in what they believed or why they believed it; so I try and find the common ground and cultivate it rather than salt the entire field.

I may oppose what they believe to my very core but I will vehemently defend their right to hold the beliefs and I will try my best not to denigrate them for it.

Except for politicians- they've gone beyond expressing an opinion to using a gross imbalance in the ability to do violence to force others to their will. Them I will denigrate on sight. Ah, who am I kidding, I would have been as polite as possible while putting a bullet through Stalin's skull. Just because you have to kill a guy doesn't mean you have to be rude about it.

Maybe it helps that as an atheist libertarian I get a lot of practise disagreeing with people.

I also make sure that I take ownership of what I say and how I say it. When I sign up on a forum or join so group I will use my real name rather than hide behind a snappy pseudonym. Unless every variation of Clint Johnson has been taken, you won't find me wearing the 'L33Tdood69' mask just so I can be a rude and obnoxious ass.

If I do decide to be a rude and obnoxious ass, rest assured that I will do it under my own name and with benevolent aforethought.

MCF said...

Clint, I'll recommend you check out onegoodmove.org. Based on some of what you've said, you may find it...I dunno, useful?
The comment thread appears to me as as the horn section in the whole superhighway-rabbithole paradox that's the intertubes. We're all allowed to drive or fall down it whenever we please in search of whatever we please, but often with the misconception or misinterpretation or mis-watever-her-name-was...Alice, I think; wthout the understanding that you do so at your own risk. If you're going to go blast your horn the whole trip...well, some people will want to know what the hell you're going on about, while others may think someone should have the power to take your liscence away; as well, those pretty fashion plates. But then sometimes there's euphonous brass balls and collective chimes coming from all that coffanous traffic and it behooves those of us who enjoy crusing top down, tunes blasting fully cased on the left to check the mirrors once in a while, gear down with full indication and just let the horns blow.

Ken said...

No comment.

Racicot said...

Unrelated to your post Jim, but I thought you might spread the word on the following... a DVD Donation program for the Soldiers (Navy) overseas called TroopFlix.

http://www.cinematical.com/2009/04/19/twitter-movie-geeks-collaborate-on-troopflix-initiative/

and from the Horror community:

http://www.horror-movies.ca/horror_14967.html

I've been told I'm able to donate my old Cinefantastique and Fangoria mags - so i'll be doing that.

Riddley Walker said...

You’re all wrong...

(kidding)

Even from gamer-land, there’s a neat little equation at: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19/

Makes me smile and reminds me to take a breath before hitting “Post” every once in a while. ;-)