Quit Ruining the Internet

January 25, 2013

commentsI love a good conversation.

I love a healthy debate, even a fired up but friendly debate.  I love all of you who comment here on my blog, even when you disagree vehemently with me.  I think it brings people to better mutual understanding, even if no one’s minds are changed.  I feel like I grow a bit whenever one of you disagrees with me.

I have had some really challenging discussions with some of my best friends.  I’ve even had some incredible disagreements with my wife.  And none of these disagreements have ever resulted in name calling, personal attacks or expletives being lobbed like grenades.

But it should be clear to anyone who reads the comment section of the average news site that most people are completely incapable of rational, civilized discussion.  Comments are often the rhetorical equivalent of chimps hurling feces at each other.  Many of these comments come from people who claim to be Christians.

I’ve jotted down a few of the most frequently occurring and egregious comments that are ruining the comment sections of the internet.

“I Feel Like I’m Living In a Prison”

Apparently, there are a lot of people who are living in dank cellars with shared bathrooms and the risk of getting stabbed to death at any moment.

Oh wait, I stand corrected.

People who say this are usually simply whining about whatever new government policy we are all trying to deal with.  A lot of people are comparing our gun debate to being in a prison.  Is there anything remotely prison-like about any aspect of middle-class American life?  No, and the very fact that we exercise the right to make such absurd comments just illustrates how unlike prison our lives are.

“Come Lord Jesus!”

Why would a Christian make a comment like this?

A) As a spiritual plea because of insurmountable personal problems?

B) Because of a genuine desire to see the Lord?

C) Because the new payroll taxes will cost each of us about $1000 extra this year?

If you answered “C,” you are correct.  I saw it, but could hardly believe it.  Calling on the name of the Lord to bring an end to all things because of taxes.  I can’t think of anything so ridiculously stupid and godless when you consider the poverty that covers so much of humanity.  This is the very definition of taking the Lord’s name in vain.

“Michelle Obama Looks Like a ________”

It amazes me how quickly any news article, no matter how innocuous, can be taken over by crazy people who have nothing better to do but making filthy comments about the President or First Lady.  Even an article about some child prodigy or new playground is just another bloodbath in the comments.  You cannot complain about the disgusting comments that so many liberals made about Sarah Palin if you are willing to do the same to Barack or Michelle Obama.  None of these comments bear repeating, they are so awful.

As children, we learned that calling people names wasn’t the way to win an argument.  In high school debate, we learned that was called an “ad hominem” attack, and it never worked.

Quit ruining the internet, chimps.

“Hitler…”

When you use the name “Hitler” in a comment, it doesn’t matter what the context is.  Anything you are about to say is going to be stupid, whiny, ill-informed, half-witted nonsense.

Comparing the President to Hitler doesn’t denigrate the President.  It denigrates the suffering of millions of people.  It doesn’t put the President on the same level of one of history’s worst mass murderers.  It puts you on the same level as a person who actually went to a concentration camp.  Is that really what you are saying?  Your suffering as an American is comparable to a person in a concentration camp?   The liberals were guilty of constantly comparing W. to Hitler, and the conservatives are equally guilty today.  Can we just agree that the Führer stands alone?

That’s just a drop in the ocean of awfulness that is the internet’s comments, and it makes me all the more glad to have such great readers here, and on all the blogs I visit.  But it illustrates that there are probably far more terrible commentors than there are great commentors.  What awful comments have you seen lately that are ruining the internet?

25 responses to Quit Ruining the Internet

  1. “Comments are often the rhetorical equivalent of chimps hurling feces at each other.” Awesome visual image.

    For me I rarely read the news for any of news sites because I don’t want to be tempted to read the comments that will make me mad. So I choose to ignore them all.

  2. It’s what we get for making it so easy to give an opinion I guess. Before it was so easy we knew those people were out there but we didn’t have to hear/read their garbage. Your post covered the internet at large but the microcosm of the Christian net presence is a disaster as well.

    Your guy writes something I think is ridiculous so I crush him, in love, with the scripture. His minions volley your jab with some verses or rhetoric of their own. A few hours later it’s a pandemic of crappy behavior among “brothers” all the while the original writer of said commentary never shows up to answer for himself. Drones, they’re all drones. Some for some against but all controlled by the original writer.
    Great observations Matt.

  3. You are so right. I can’t bear to look at comments on many news sites and it makes me never want to post anything on YouTube. It’s easy to hurl feces when you’re anonymous. Like the KKK. Cowards.

  4. We must be on the same wave length. I was sort of mulling over this phenomenon myself. And while there’s really no excuse for some of the awful comments, tweets and facebook posts I’ve seen, I often feel some bloggers write deliberately inflammatory stories for the sole purpose of stirring up the trolls.

  5. Thanks for giving us all some perspective again! Sure, we may disagree with someone’s politics, policies, or lifestyle choices, but does that mean we’re the suffering martyr?? Not even close. I’ve had to stop reading the comments on my local newspapers web page because they were so horrendous. I live in an inner city neighborhood that has a fairly high violent crime rate. Every time there was a story about a murder in my neighborhood a few people would take over the comment sections with, “It’s their own fault for choosing to live there” and other way more offensive, racist comments. I would get so angry and write a huge rebuttal, but then realize I was doing the same thing they were–using someone else’s pain and grief as a way to get my own opinions across. So no more reading news comments for me. Now I just say a prayer and go read a blog that’s fostering healthy community in their comment sections. :)

  6. Matt — It’s such a gift to have spaces on the Internet where I know my opinions will be valued and we can have a civilized discussion even about difficult topics. Thank you for creating that kind of space here, and for helping us create that kind of space at Prodigal.

  7. If guns kill people, then spoons make them fat. :)

  8. http://whenincomments.tumblr.com/
    This is how some other bloggers deal with their ridiculous comments. Enjoy.

  9. Thanks for posting this, it is so true. I wrote a letter to the editor lately and the comments were ridiculous.

  10. “It’s Bushes Fault” LOL

  11. I don’t read comments on news sites because of the vitriol on there. I just wonder if people really believe what they are putting out there or if they are just saying something so on the fringe of reality to get more comments because if reality TV has taught us anything, it has taught us that attention for bad behavior is better than no attention at all, right?

    Regarding Nazis, have you heard about “Godwin’s Law”? http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/godwins-law.

    I just heard it referenced recently regarding an FB discussion. A person claimed that they invoked it and therefore won the argument. I am still hazy on how that is possible. I was also surprised this person would do something like that because he always runs thoughtful, respectful debates on FB, when he chooses to bring something up.

  12. Another one that always gets my dander up is “It’s people like you that are responsible for XYZ”. As if some nimrod on the Internet knows anything about me beyond the few words that I just wrote.

    One thing I’d like to see someone say is “You know, I may not agree with liberals/conservatives/whatever, but they are still my neighbors. They also have the best interest of the country at heart, although I may disagree with their methods.”

    If I ever see that written in a comment, I’ll eat my hat.

  13. First of all I read Kim’s tumblr, and I love it!
    I don’t read the news on the internet but I can’t stand the dumb comments on Facebook. I am so happy that I found your blog and that ther is someone else besides me that thinks that bashing on the President, Michelle Obama, etc. is wrong and uncalled for.
    Matt, you are so correct when you say…”Comparing the President to Hitler doesn’t denigrate the President. It denigrates the suffering of millions of people.” Just plain sad :(

  14. And, the feces slingers often turn a post on any topic into a field for casting their dirt on any subject, even if not even remotely related to the topic.

  15. Just created a new band called ‘Chimps Hurling Feces’ based on this post. Thanks, from all the guys at CHF! Seriously though, the Internet is hastening the destruction of humanity. It’s all just too much. I don’t know what to do about it but it’s a real problem.

  16. Talk about any excuse serving to vent one’s opinion, I once saw a comment that read (as best I remember), “Yeah, I’m sure the muslim [sic] who comes to blow your head off will have a change of heart when you invoke childlike innocence.” The news item that set off the writer? A classic family comic strip that showed a mother remarking “I don’t worry so much about this country’s future” as she watched a racially mixed group of children playing together!

  17. I also think that one of the biggest problems in Internet dialogue is the anonymity involved. Not only can someone spew complete garbage all over someone’s article or chat forum; they can do so namelessly! In a society that values transparency and respect, our Internet often produces neither!

  18. Massive coincidence you RT this old post after I had a discussion about discussions with a guy and expressed my lack of hope for the topic as most people seem not to want to grow learn about others or question themselves but discuss to look for approval and create proselytes when they can’t find it…and this is so evident in how quick the trolling and insult come into the picture when talking to people about something.
    Alessia recently posted..An Anthology of Madness