Over the past couple of days I’ve been reading a lot of comment sections on blogs and e-news sources which is to say I’ve immersed myself in people being jerks on the internet. I did not participate in e-jerkiness myself; it was more of a voyueristic thing, a cross between Diane Fossey and Click the Camera from “Go, Diego, Go.”
Shhhh… What is presumed to be an adult American female approachs. From her cultural references I surmise her to be in her mid-30’s. But given that this is the internet all identities must be treated with some skepticism. She is approaching the watering hole otherwise known as the comment section of a popular website. Others around the watering hole appear leery of her presence.
The subject suggests that she values “honesty” and is “concerned for the children” and quickly moves onto discussion of the original poster’s “need for therapy.” Upon questioning she asserts that many of her detractors are “just racist” against a group unclear to the researcher. Subsequent comments suggest it might be “people from Kentucky” or possibly “dog owners.” Subject’s increasingly erratic behavior makes further analysis challenging.
I don’t know why I felt compelled to engage in such field work. I’ve been well aware of this wide spread phenomenon for quite some time. Maybe I did it because sometimes I wonder about where the line is between expressing your opinon and just being an asshole.
Part of me feels like I should go on and make some larger psychological point or draw some kind of dramatic parallel or something but here’s what I think it boils down to: don’t be a dick. Do you have a feeling you might not be thinking of e-people as actual people? Would you be reluctant to say what you just typed to someone’s face because then you’d be worried they’d slap you across the face? Would you in your heart of hearts be 100% okay if someone said to you what you’re saying to them? Are you confusing an individual person with a broader societal issue? When you step back do you really think this is the way to go? Have doubts?
Then shut up. Self awareness is a thing. Use it.