The comments section: you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
— Don't Read The Comments (@AvoidComments) March 23, 2014
I recently stopped reading comments on the internet.
There were days when I thought of them as a great idea, enabling instant feedback and adding more sides to any story. News stories got enhanced by opinions and by putting them in relation to other people’s views. I wrote comments myself, especially on tagesspiegel.de, some were actually ok, others are in hindsight easy to attack and prove wrong. But hey, I was taking part in the discussion and felt like adding something interesting to the interwebs.
Rarely have I been so wrong (I wouldn’t say never, I pronounced (and still do if I don’t pay attention) vampire as wampire). I don’t know what changed, me or the internet, but it is probably not the internet. Whenever I scroll past the end of an article, blog post or picture I end up shaking my head in disbelief (in good times) or by shouting angry insults at my screen (in bad times).
And it’s not even the trolls. Fortunately you hardly see those “First” or “Gaaaaaaaaaaaay” comments any more. Nowadays’ people are serious about their twisted world views, stuck up role models and angry insults. A whole culture of dumb comments is emerging right now, making it to the front pages of newspaper websites under the label “commentary”. Matussek, Sarrazin, Martenstein – they all have in common, that they ignore facts and other perspectives, that they want to misunderstand the people they accuse of being radical left wing, gay destroyer of marriage or a dumb immigrant. These three and many of their clones are just more eloquent versions of what is happening further down the website.
Constructive discussions are nowhere to be found, at least in mainstream media. And it gets worse, as soon as the article is shared on facebook. Then the crowd of headline-only readers enter the comment section, barfing out insults and age old jokes, one of the most popular being “Herr schmeiß Hirn vom Himmel” – Lord, let brain rain from the skies. You see it in hundreds of equally stupid variations, with “funny” additions and thousands of thumb ups.
I once joined instagram, because I liked the documentary concept I saw in this service. instagram is so kind to throw these idiot comments right in your face as soon as you begin to browse for photo streams that seem interesting. Under every picture are the latest or most popular comments displayed. One guy differed from the other mainstream bunch of selfies and food pictures by having some kind of artistic feel to his work. One was a rather nice photo of a wall with graphic elements to it. instagram instantly shoved the comments “I liked your other stuff better” and “why is this considered good?! this is just a wall.” in my face. It’s like visiting a museum with a bunch of premature kids that scream constantly their ignorant opinions on art in other peoples’ faces. And you can’t run, as soon as you approach a picture an adolescent idiot screams in your ear “WHY DOES THIS REDBEARD ONLY HAVE ONE EAR?! IS HE STUPID? #swag”
To avoid all this depression I stopped reading comments now. If someone has something worthwhile to say, they can write a blog post or something similar. If they don’t, then they don’t.
Let me know in the comments what you think! (no)
Whatever kind of day you're having, you can make it just a little bit better by choosing to not read the comments.
— Don't Read The Comments (@AvoidComments) March 26, 2014