The internet affords us all sorts of very wonderful things. Access to a massive amount of information, ridiculously funny panda/cat/baby videos, and the ability to connect to just about anyone in the world at any time. It’s so cool that just the other day when my daughter asked what worms eat and I had no idea, I was able to spark up the ol’ smart phone (aka the incredibly powerful computer in my pocket that’s always connected) and do a quick Google search. Bam, got an answer just like that! But among the many things the internet, in all it’s collected wisdom (information?), gets right, there’s one thing that eludes it… comments.
Go to any blog, any forum, any portion of ANY site that includes a public conversation and you’ll find absolute craziness. Words and phrases that you wouldn’t believe existed. Ways of communicating with other people that not only in every other situation is absolutely inappropriate, but is written down as a record for others to read! If you hadn’t ever been on the internet before and you were told that each of these comments was written by a living breathing human person as part of a larger conversation on a given topic, you would conclude that humanity had ended, civility had been cast to the wind, and cannibals roamed the earth (the internet as well) in droves.
Why is it that comments are so broken. Simple… anonymity. Even the most genuine and sincere person can be reduced to shouting “SHUT YOUR FACE, YOU STUPID, POOPY PERSON” (modified for appropriateness) in all caps in the comment section of a Youtube video about the best baby sling to use. It’s just too easy. It’s not you, it’s an alter ego. There are no consequences. There is no downside. Proof in point, folks on the internet are much more civil in places like Facebook because their online personality is themselves. It’s got your name on it. There’s no crazy user name (FireLOrd673) to hide behind. Stuff can be traced back to you. Friends can call you out. Your Mom might see!
So next time you’re browsing the latest article on Gizmodo or Youtube and you peruse the comments section, fear not, humanity hasn’t ended, it’s not you… it’s just the internet.