I was reading today about the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and I scrolled down far enough to read the most recent reader comments. And so many of them were so ugly. Or they referred to politics --- like this had anything to do with the moron who murdered people --- and all of a sudden it was a free-for-all of hatred.
Some examples include: "too many mass killing sprees under Obama. im votin (sic) GOP" and "The shooter was a Sara Palin voter". Charming.
And I can't even bring myself to type out the AWFUL comments made about the victims and their religion.
(My son used to have a wonderful doctor who happened to be a Sikh. We were so sad when he moved to another state. He was kind and sensitive to a little boy who was nervous about having a foot issue treated. He used liquid nitrogen to freeze the offending plantar wart and then did a sort of magic trick when he disposed of the excess nitrogen thus bringing a huge smile to The Boy's face. The only thing that was "different" about him was his turban and that was not a big deal. Why would it be?)
This phenomenon is not confined to news or sports articles. Read almost any article about a TV show and invariably the first comment will be something like, "I would never watch this show." And right on cue it will be followed up with someone taking the bait, "Then why did you read this article in the first place?!" And so on ad infinitum.
I have never posted comments myself because a) I'm not stupid and b) what would be the point? There are always people who try to be the voice of reason against the vicious comments but it's a losing battle. The people who write such ugly, vicious words do it the knowledge that they are anonymous and because they think it's funny. One person was typing the same thing over and over every minute presumably so everyone would see it. I guess it's sad to think how pitiful that person's life must be if the only jollies they get are posting and re-posting the same ugly words every time there's a tragedy.
Now there's always been a dark side to various tragedies. Does anyone remember the Helen Keller jokes that kids used to tell (now I bet no one even remembers who Helen Keller was, at least the younger generations)? Or the jokes after the space shuttle Challenger exploded? (I won't re-type them here; hit the Internet for examples if you want.) There are stupid jokes for EVERYTHING on the Internet.
I'm not sure I believe the trope that people who write ugly comments on the Internet wouldn't say them to someone's face. I think many WOULD as people have become much bolder in expressing themselves since the arrival of the Internet. For example, take Kim Kardashian. I bet there's not a day that goes by when that woman is not accosted by people yelling ugly things to her just because they want to get a rise out of her. Or Madonna. Or Kristin Stewart (especially lately). Or baseball players. Or football players. Or...you get the idea.
So today I am taking the pledge: I will no longer read comments on news articles.
Thus endeth today's screed. Comment sections are stupid. I won't read them anymore. Unless they are posted to my blog, of course.