If you ever want to destroy your faith in humanity, all you need to do is read the comments section under any article published on the Internet by any major news outlet.
Oddly enough, the same is generally not true with most blogs – certainly not the ones I tend to read, and not here either – unless they are explicitly and entirely political in focus. For some reason people are much more civil when it’s a personal site than an institutional one.
Quite some time ago I was given the opportunity to become one of the stable of community bloggers for the Daily Paper here in Our Little Town. They were trying to expand into the online world and somehow – I later did find out how – they got hold of my name, identified me as a local and made me an offer.
After some back and forth and an initial acceptance, my world went through one of its periodic cave-ins, so I backed out of the deal and wrote about the experience here on this blog. And with that I figured that was the end of the story, though the editor down at the Daily Paper was nice enough to leave the door open a bit for me should I change my mind.
With all of the hullabaloo going on here in Fitzwalkerstan this year I have more than once thought about going back to see if that door is still open. It isn’t every day you see an American state subverted from within by an extremist junta, and the opportunity to write about it on a reasonably large stage does have its attractions. Even with my world far busier now than it was when I initially declined the offer, the temptation is there.
And then I go read the comment sections of any random news article on any random major news outlet’s website, and I’m pretty much cured of that.
It's like pulling up to Mos Eisely, every time that happens - that same sense of foreboding, for the same reason.
And it’s not like the trolls are limited to political articles, either. I’ve seen comments degenerate into verbal urination competitions on articles about sports victories, health issues, fluff pieces about minor celebrities, tech news, and consumer reports. Apparently there is a subset of Internet users who feel it is their duty to drag the level of discourse down to their level – whether for fun or profit I cannot tell – and invariably they succeed.
It worries me that such folks have the same right to vote as normal people, though it does explain a lot about the current sorry state of our nation.
I believe I will avoid the comments on the major news outlets for a while, as my faith in humanity at large was never all that great to begin with and I still have to get up in the morning without screaming or heading toward the nearest clock tower.
Should any of those discussions result in anything of importance, if someone would please let me know I'd be grateful.
I won't hold my breath, though.