April 23, 2009

Fish Still Can't See Ocean

One of the unpleasant parts of blogging is the number of comments you get from abusive imbeciles.

I guess it's to be expected, but when you see it, it's still unsettling.

There's a whole hoo-hah going on at some of the ad blogs lately over the viciousness of commenters, particularly anonymous ones. For some background, check out this from Alan Wolk guest blogging at Agency Spy.

I don't have the patience to read all the 100 or so comments that his post has engendered, but it seems like many of them are trying to analyze why there is such hostile venom.

Is it our rancid culture? Or fear? Or the insecurity of ad people? Or the stress of a lousy economy? Or what?

The whole thing seems like an argument among people suffering from overexposure to freshman sociology.

It is perfectly obvious what is motivating all this harshness -- it's the internet itself.

In my entire life I have never had someone walk up to me on the street and say "you're a fucking idiot and I hope you die." I've never gotten that in a letter. Or a phone call.

But I get shit like that every day from malignant internet commenters. The medium is motivating the message.

Since the commenters on Alan's post, by definition, are all social media enthusiasts, they can't see this. It's that "fish can't see the ocean" thing.

We don't have a new breed of human beings. We have a new medium. And it's a wonderful medium for nasty, ignorant, cowards -- of which there has never been a shortage.

All the gee-whiz zealotry aside, there's a lot about this medium that is ugly and dangerous.

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