Online Commentervention

September 29, 2014

Hi there. Welcome. Just have a seat over there. Right over there. Yes, that’s fine.

How are you doing today? Good? Good.

Your friends and I have asked you here today to discuss a sensitive matter. We hope that you will hear us out. We are sharing our feelings out of love. We are saying this because we care, and what we have to say is, “You have a serious online commenting problem.”

We’ve noticed that after you read an article, blog, or social network status that you do not agree with, you write a dissenting comment indicating that the writer is stupid and/or that you know it all. For example, a friend posts on their Facebook wall how much they love Dane Cook; you pollute their comment stream by saying how stupid Dane Cook and his fans are. Someone writes a thorough article outlining the many talents of Fergie; you reply with an outline of your own perception of Fergie as a talentless, urine-soaked diva. An author writes a heart-warming post about helping a child from a broken home; you feel entitled to not only type everything you think the writer did wrong but also make judgements of the writer’s character.

You may not know this, but your online comments are causing a lot of emotional pain and damaging your relationship with humanity. In your head, you are fighting a crusade and changing the world, but in reality, you’re only coming across as an enormous ass. You may find this hard to believe, but your opinions have absolutely no positive impact in shaping the world in which we live.

I know this because I have been a victim of this nuisance many times. Over a month ago, a humor article of mine called How to Explain Gays to Your Child was published on a humor website for parents (rhymes with Hairy Commie) that boasts over half a million followers. It was  piece written in the perspective of an angry gay person emotionally exhausted after viewing so many parents complain about gay content on television by whining, “How am I supposed to explain this to my children?” This article bred comments such as, “Go away until you have your own kids,” “A guy with no kids ranting about how some homophobes raise their kids and giving this as ‘advice’,” “I didn’t read the article, but…,” and  “…what an a**hole!” There was also one stating that I refer to straight people as “breeders.”

Other than being stunned by how many people read a humor website for parenting advice, these comments didn’t affect me. I guess being called a “faggot,” “butt pirate,” “sissy,” and countless other variants for most of my life desensitized me to situations like this, but I know that their intention was to shame and/or hurt me. I’m at a loss as to how someone can become so overwhelmed with the delusion that their unsolicited opinion in a comment stream matters. I guess it’s just the price one has to pay for fame.

Unfortunately, there are no support groups or in-patient treatment for this disorder, but there is a simple solution. Before typing a dissenting comment on somebody else’s article, blog, status, etc., ask yourself, “Did the writer ask for my feedback?” If the answer is no, stop and find another alternative to your frustration. May I suggest medication or exercise? Internet comment sections were designed for compliments, funny stories, witty remarks, or flattery. Utilizing a comment section for any other purpose is a gross hindrance on the progression of a civilized society, and you don’t want to be responsible for that, do you?

As a recovering unsolicited commenter, I still fight the occasional urge to share my opinion, perception, taste, choice, belief, and opinion. Unfortunately, it’s an addiction from which you never fully recover, but the first step on your journey to recovery is realizing you have a problem.

 

by Cary Vaughn (2014)