Comments Off

May 13, 2011 Comments Off on Comments Off

At this point I will go into my crotchety old lady persona and declare that the worst thing about people on the Internet these days is that they think their opinions matter and that they should always have an outlet for them. I’ve been considering making over my blog, and in flipping through all the different themes to choose from, there hasn’t been a single one that doesn’t explicitly and uncustomizably say “Comments Off.” I don’t really understand why there’s ever a comments option at all. What do I care about what you guys have to say? (Yes, I’m bashing my readers.) The point of a blog is for me to say what I want, not to invite comments (usually). And speaking as a veteran of the Internet, when comments are not facile and stupid they are belligerent and foment controversy, and always they are useless.

I read Calvin and Hobbes online every morning, and the comments always load first. It wouldn’t be that big a deal except that my internet connection is so slow that sometimes they’re up by themselves long enough for me to accidentally read them. Why do they even have comments? A lot of them are some variant of “haha LOL calvin!” or they respond inanely to the most basic premise of the day’s strip; for example, if it’s one where Hobbes catapults out the door, there are comments like “ouch thats gotta hurt lol,” “watch out calvin!” or “my dog totally does this!” The comments are the kind of thing you’d say to your wife as you sit at the kitchen table reading the newspaper comics. It’s okay to say things like this out loud to someone you know, but people seem to think they’re okay to say online, too. Trouble is, when you take the time to type everyday chatter into a comment box, it gives it too much weight and it makes you look like an idiot…except on Facebook and other social sites, which are designed for that kind of thing. Actually, I take that back: it doesn’t make you look like an idiot, it makes you look like a middle-aged person who doesn’t speak Internet but has an indulgent web-savvy child who has taught them enough to be dangerous.

At least the Calvin and Hobbes commenters don’t usually look for trouble. The example par excellence of stupid, stupid comments is YouTube. As proof, I present to you my very favorite XKCD:

The question is, why do people always think they have a god-given right to have a say in everything? Oh, there are all kinds of sociological explanations. Because America’s society and government stresses over and over that every citizen has a voice (although I remain unconvinced that that’s a good thing). Because people have become alienated from each other and their communities have been reduced to pixels on a screen. Because the current paranoia is that not everyone is special or intelligent (which they’re not), so everyone tries to prove that they are. Because muttering comments to yourself in public is frowned upon.

But what happened to the good old days (I told you, crotchety old lady persona) of newspapers and TV, where you took what you were given and your only outlet for comments was family and friends? I understand the appeal of discussing things you’re interested in with a bunch of like-minded people—especially if what you’re interested in is gay rights and you live in rural Mississippi. But that’s completely different from “haha LOL calvin!” And I include under the “haha LOL calvin!” label comments on a blog. You may speak to me in person or via email if you want to discuss something I have to say. Otherwise…tough beans. Tell the person next to you.

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