Weekly Bitches: The Comments Section

Comments

Putting positivity in its place! But only for a minute. I promise.

Last week I started a new feature called Weekly Bitches which was intended to give us bloggers (or anyone who cared to leave a complaint in the comments section) a brief respite from the pressure we put on ourselves to be positive all the time. For weeks leading up to it, I had compiled a list of silly things that I found annoying and wished to address in this space. However, after reading the contribution made by Liz from A Simple Imp, which was a genuinely thoughtful and funny objection to an alarmist article on hygiene off the Huffington Post, I decided maybe should stop goofing around with my gripes about Vitamin Water Zero caps and write about something that actually needs attending to. Especially when I saw how Liz ended her piece with two constructive solutions and another hilarious, if not obvious one. It made me think that if I took myself seriously for a second, perhaps I could actually effect positive change in my life. So while I’m not promising that all my grievances are going to be quite so heavy, I’ve chosen to make this one about something that has truly been bothering me lately and in serious need of some bitching:

The Comments Section

I often find myself legitimately sick over the absolute human trash that I see in the comments sections of internet posts. Sick in the sense that after reading a slew of them on anything from a YouTube video to a Facebook link, I begin to feel my mood change with every disparaging remark written about nothing in particular, every hateful jab taken for an unapparent reason. I start to see the online comment community as representative of the world in general and begin to feel hopeless about who we are as a society.

So why read them? Well, that’s a good question.

xojaneone-1024x703

I never used to read comment sections, that is until my own articles began to pop up on sites much bigger than this one which garnered much higher response rates. The first I ever had published was called My Friend’s Horrifying Breakup Is Really Making My Day! It was silly take on a sad situation, where I talked about the obvious, if not ill-gotten, benefits that often come out of your friends’ breakups. Namely that you get to see them more and for a single girl like myself, I couldn’t help but be a little bit happy about that factor, while at the same time, still sympathetic to the suckiness of the whole scenario. When XoJane said they wanted to publish the post on their site, I was super excited to see what people thought because I had never had an audience that big before.

I was floored with what came back.

The major consensus was how selfish I was. There were comments that skewered me for my “inability to be happy while my friends were in relationships” and others which insisted that I didn’t deserve friends if I “couldn’t be excited for them when they had boyfriends.” While I was surprised by how seriously everyone took the article, it wasn’t the people who were put off by the tone of it which I found disturbing. What I thought to be weird was the rage it inspired. To be honest, aside from being slightly cheeky, I thought what I wrote was relatively benign yet I was called pathetic, co-dependent and needy because of it. When one commentator came to my defense by saying she’d bet two bucks the whole thing was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, another responded with this:

“Dude I’ll give you two bucks, but I’m fairly certain that even if it is tongue-in-cheek, the author is still a bitch.”

typing2

And as far as angry internet comments go, these were all pretty tame. Since then, I’ve started paying more attention to what comes after the posts and videos that I watch and it’s despicable. Take C.D. Hermelin for example. This is a guy who I actually met in Union Square last year when he was nice enough to type me up a poem for the Flat Stanley I was carrying around. Not long after that, someone snapped a photo of him in the park on his typewriter and posted it to Reddit as an example of just how far hipsters were taking this whole “hipster” thing. By bringing a typewriter to the park, that is. He was crucified. Not only was he called a dong, a jagbag and an assdweller, he was told he should “get the fuck out of the city” and that he inspired the kind of hate which warranted physical violence.

It’s like there’s this whole planet of people out there just sitting around waiting to be offended so they can start hacking away at their keyboards, saying the meanest things they can think of, from the safety of an anonymous avatar.

And this is what pisses me off the most. I’m not trying to give people who create content for the internet any more credit than they deserve here, but writing articles and shooting videos and putting your work out there for everyone to see on a regular basis is hard. It’s not splitting the atom type hard, but it requires thought, diligence, discipline and courage. Now if I write something that doesn’t sit well with you and you want to disagree with me in a respectful way, then no problem. But if after all of the effort I’ve put into researching a topic and formulating an argument, all you can do is sit behind the safety of your user name and call me a bitch, well that’s fucking lame. It’s those kinds of lazy contributions to a discussion that say way more about the person who wrote them than the person they’re targeting. So in order to keep from murdering my computer on a regular basis, I’m going to have to adhere to the following:

Solutions:

#1 Stop reading all comments sections that aren’t related to posts I’ve written.

This seems like a no-brainer but sometimes it’s like watching a train wreck. I find myself almost dazzled by how awful people can be to one another when there’s no filter or means to regulate the tone of what’s being said. I can’t look away. However, inevitably, I always end up feeling gross and left never wanting to post another opinion piece again.

#2 Stop trying to debate everyone who doesn’t like you.

I’m not going to stop reading comments on posts I’ve written, strictly because of my own narcissism. I want to see what people think of what I’m writing, however I often find myself wanting to argue with anyone who doesn’t see it my way and expresses themselves in a hostile tone. There’s no point getting into an argument with someone who’s just trying to get a rise out of you in the first place. It will only serve to escalate in an increasingly unproductive and immature way and knowing myself, avoiding opportunities to become more immature is probably a strategy I’ll want to stick with.

Bonus

#3 For anyone who consistently critiques other people’s work, try writing something of your own and then distribute it to a thousand people who can then say whatever they want about it because no one knows who they are. Just for perspective.

*Update: My friend Cortney just sent me this post about a naked yoga instructor because of the flood of awful comments and ridiculous arguments that follow it. Just another example of people being gross to one another. Also, after looking at it, I’m pretty sure I’m a lesbian now.

That’s it for this week and if you want to add a bitch you can link it here below!

The Rheel Dqze

 

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  • http://www.wanderlyn.com/ Eternally WanderLyn

    This is perfect for your Weekly Bitches series! I’m sure we can all relate to seeing those crazy and aggressive comments on posts, videos, and more on the internet. People can be so cruel online. I can understand not agreeing with a post because we’re all very different people. But that does not mean you have to be hateful about it.

    • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

      Thanks Lynsey! Fortunately in the blogging world, people tend to be a lot more respectful but look at almost any XoJane post and it’s like a feeding frenzy with commentators fighting the author, each other. It’s gross. And hard not to get caught up in.

  • http://mycreativenergy.wordpress.com/ Amy

    Ur a B1tch.

    Hahaha – jkjkjk! I couldn’t agree more with you (and I’m not just saying that to not seem like a troll). I feel the exact same way – I can’t help but waste my precious time (which I’m always saying I don’t have enough of) reading ignorant comment sections, only to feel icky and sad about the world afterward. And telling myself that there are people who are JUST doing it to get a rise out of others only makes me feel more disgusted. Really? Come on humans!!

    As amazing as the Internet can be to helping connect us – it also connects us to the ugly that’s out there. Double edge sword.

    Thanks for sharing – I like your solutions :)

    • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

      It’s tough not to get caught up in it. I even find myself almost responding to the idiots who are commenting on articles that have nothing to do with me. I see these people getting into fights with one another in the comments section and I want to jump right in and shout my opinion but that’s really all it ends up being. A bunch of people shouting nonsense at one another with no one really listening. I guess there are better things I could do. Like watch reality TV where everyone is doing it for you. It’s just the nature of our society lately. Everyone wants a fight. Thanks Amy!

  • Awesomely Over-Zealous

    Damn yeah you’re right about that people are just waiting so they can bitch about something instead of focusing on real ish that matters – like life. I’m sure it’s hard not to get caught up in it but it’s best to avoid it then – if you can. Laughing is the best cure – just remember they’re the pathetic ones wasting their breath complaining on the web, don’t they have anything better to do? If you have nothing nice to say don’t say ish and even if they do, laugh it off! Have a great one Kelly haters are gon’ hate! -Iva

  • http://www.according2robyn.blogspot.com/ According2Robyn

    I loved this article, but the file name of the second picture implies an image resolution of 1024×7031, when the actual image is only 1024×599 pixels.

    For this reason, I hate you and hope someone fires you out of a cannon into the sun, with angry weasels in your pants who will bite and consume your private parts on the trip through space, because slimeballs who put ambiguous names on their photos don’t even deserve to have genitals by the time they burn to death inside the corona of a star.

    Oh wait, I see. The picture was cropped from a larger image.

    Nevermind.

    • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

      Haha! I just literally laughed out loud when I read this. I got nervous that there was a problem with the image at first then I realized I was an idiot. That was a fantastic diatribe by the way. I almost want to encourage you to lambast other bloggers in the comments section since you seem to have a knack for it. Well done.

      • http://www.according2robyn.blogspot.com/ According2Robyn

        It comes from practice. My entire family actually attends a yearly, week-long seminar on practicing and improving techniques for insulting others. It’s called “Thanksgiving.”

  • Amber

    The happiest comments section I’ve ever seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cILZ_cB3_so The comments do almost as good of a job at giving me warm fuzzies as the video. If only everything on the Internet was as uncontroversial and adorable as this…

    • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

      My heart just melted all over the place. This is the world I want to live in. Thank you :) Look at him take down that pumpkin! I’m gonna watch it again.

      • Amber

        I just wish it were longer.

        • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

          I have to admit. I was somewhat tempted to put a comment about what an inconsiderate asshole the porcupine was for getting pumpkin seeds all over the place just to be the one who started the porcupine/pumpkin battle. I refrained however.

          • Amber

            Don’t give in! Do not succumb to the Internet’s aggressive and argumentative ways! We must guard the rare purity of this comments section!

  • http://hemborgwife.wordpress.com/ Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

    Just last night I was laying in bed seething over some dumb comment I saw online and then was getting mad that I even saw the comment in the first place. It is a very hard cycle to break though as I find myself so intrigued by the people who leave these comments, if I was still in school it would make the perfect research paper!

  • http://breakthesky.net/ Manda

    A friend of mine has been pushing me to submit some of my writing to ThoughtCatalog. I’m hesitant to do so (not just because TC’s content has gone severely downhill and is becoming at text version of Buzzfeed, what with all the lists they’re posting now) but because of the comments section. It’s not that I’m afraid of people not liking what I write, because not everyone is going to like anything I write, but the level of idiocy and ignorance is astounding when it comes to the comments section on a site like that and I don’t think I want to deal with it.

    I remember (somewhat recently?) a popular site turned off comments. For the life of me, I can’t remember what site it was, but part of the reasoning was that the comments were beginning to affect people’s takeaway of the article content. I’m not articulating this well (I wish I could remember the site so I could link to the rationale behind shutting off comments) but it framed the whole situation of ignorant comments in a way I had never really considered before.

    • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

      Thought Catalog has gotten somewhat stale but then they post literally every five minutes or so, so there’s bound to be repeats and boring subject matter. I just read a post on there called 50 Signs You Grew Up In NYC which was so pompous, cliché and tired I couldn’t believe it got through. I even had the impulse to write that in the comments section and had to stop myself because it’s not nice and really, who cares? But I think it depends on what you’re looking to achieve. If you want to grow your website’s traffic, I would submit regardless of what comments might arise and just realize the people who write nasty things that don’t really have a point and go nowhere, aren’t worth the aggravation of being bothered by (easier said than done, I’m still annoyed over this one really stupid comment on my last post but I’m not going to respond) I know what you mean about the comments taking away from the article. Sometimes thats all I remember after reading something.

  • http://www.thekaridiaries.com/ Kari @ The Kari Diaries

    I’ve never experienced that kind of hate, but it truly sickens me when I see how cruel people can be. Expressing a differing point of view is one thing (I do it frequently), but leaving hateful, horrible comments is quite another. And in my opinion, the only word to describe it all is “bullying.” And I have such a strong reaction to bullying (I literally cry when I see it happening, especially with kids). I wrote a post about how I’m addicted to Instagram like a month ago and in researching for that, I was so very disgusted by some of the comments on celebrity account. I cannot believe the gall that some people have. I know I’m not capable of saying those things and intentional trying to make someone feel bad about themselves. I don’t understand the appeal in breaking another person down, especially one that you do not know personally at all.
    Eeep! Sorry for the rant, I just get SO worked up about these things.

    • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

      Ha! The rant is exactly what this series is about, so well done!

  • Nina

    Although the internet can be a place of wonder and generally somewhere positive, it also sadly brings out some people’s dark sides – I mean, having an opinion, even a differing opinion is absolutely okay, but there’s no reason to be completely mean to someone for no good reason. I guess it’s the lack of basic respect shown to fellow humans that irritates me. Why can’t we just show each other some basic courtesy? Great weekly bitch by the way:-)

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  • http://www.wittytitlehere.com/ Cassie

    The comments section on any site large enough (YouTube in particular) is enough to make you lose all faith in humanity. The Internet is a scary, trolly world sometimes.

  • Damien Galeone

    K! Nice to see you again! Wow, it is as though you were listening in on my discussion with my dad last night. He’s on a Philadelphia Phillies (baseball if you don’t know) forum and was amazed at some of the things people gripe about – and with hostility. Another time, a (faceless and nameless, of course) prick accused another player of having taken steroids. And it caused an uproar! Because of a no named, non source.

    I got a story published on Nerve.com a year or so ago and while most of the comments were positive, some of them were downright angry, abusive, uncalled for, and untrue. It was such a terrible stain on an otherwise positive experience.

    Now, I haven’t read through all of the comments on this post, so I’m sure I’m hitting on what others have already said. But I find that the internet – specifically comment sections – offer negative and spiteful people an outlet for their pathetic rants in which they can remain anonymous and raise useless controversy. I find it horrible. When I started blogging, my friend said – Don’t feed the trolls! And I’ve tried to live by that statement.

  • Stereofidelic

    Oh man. People always say don’t read the comments section but inevitably, i end up in all of them marvelling at the propensity for judgement (which sometimes, is admittedly warranted) but when it comes to internet criticism, it so often spills over into hate or personal attacks and that is where the line is. I think that is where the line for any reasonable person should be.

    Long and short of it; smart people know better 😉

  • alexes gershick

    I like this linkup and i am going to linkup soon!

    • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

      Looking forward to it!

  • http://www.lifeinprogress.ca/ Kathy@Vodka and Soda

    anyone can be a badass behind the computer; the internet turns assholes into trolls who do nothing but shit on others all day. to those people, i say suck a fat one.

    it’s one thing to express an opinion that may differ from the writer -which is fine – or even constructive criticism is fine. but if you truly hate the article/blog post and it really fires you up so much that you are compelled to write a troll comment, then you need to step back, bro, and re-evalute your own life. why let something like WORDS ON THE INTERWEBS affect you so?

    that said, those who write stuff for online sites also need to take everything with a grain of salt. stop focusing on the negatives only. accept the fact that when you post shit online, you will get troll comments because that’s just the way it is. instead, focus on the positives and walk away from the drama.

  • Mcgyvra

    Reading the comments like the ones left on My Friend’s Horrifying Breakup (and others – like the blogger who wrote about being sick of just-got-engaged friends posting on FB–also hilarious–but she was crucified in the comments section) just makes me realize how many people are lacking a sense of humor. It’s pretty sad for society as a whole. And annoying as sh*t.