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James Francis
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Save The Internet Commentor!

11 February 2013, 12:00
News is common. Gone are the days where you hunt down the same story in two different newspapers, trying to spot the differences. Now everything is washed, rinsed and repeated online ad infinitum. It makes sense: there is a lot of news, a lot of us and not everyone wants to fight the New York Times paywall.

All that recycling just means that you really can’t miss anything these days. But it also means that news isn’t unique. Fortunately something else is. Unfortunately we declared war on it.

I’m talking about what has become my favourite part of any Internet article: the idiot commenters. Even this esteemed site attracts a lot of them - and for that I am thankful. Comments are generally useful - there readers often highlight inaccuracies, more information or insightful debate points on the subject at hand. They also call the writer names, declare everyone else as clearly a terrorist and manage to pin it all on a worldwide group of puppet masters.

If comments are to be believed, liberals are wimps, conservatives are crazy, Bin Laden worked with the CIA, at least 90 percent of the population is gay and you are all f***ing morans (sic). There is an interesting psychological theory called ‘cognitive dissonance’ that argues if a person believes one thing and is presented with facts countering that belief, they are more likely to stick to the belief. I call it ‘human nature’ or ‘Why Jehova’s Witnesses don’t come to my gate anymore’.

Now you might think this is bad, but I feel these comments are part of my right to entertainment. Normally I’d have to endure free-TV ads or pay-TV repeats to rekindle my faith in human stupidity. Reality TV, the fashion police, private eye shows and the Kardashians apparently do not come for free. But online I get to have my pick. Nothing boost my ego and faith in humanity’s obvious ape origins more than comments on Youtube or Huffington Post.

It also demonstrates our species’ amazing creativity: we are able to use any topic and make it about something completely different. We don’t even bother reading the story before launching into tirades that make Fidel Castro’s speeches seem coherent and to the point. Such passion must not be put under a bucket.

Yet now this entertainment is under threat. Facebook plugins force you to use your real name. Youtube has been trying hard to do that as well, but I keep telling the site I am actually a dissident in some oppressive regime, so I need my anonymous free speech. I then use that to make fun of Justin Bieber fans.

Besides, real names don’t help. If Facebook is held to evidence, all they encourage are stupid pictures of stupid quotes that make you believe you are special. It just encourages the whole ‘everyone gets a trophy’ culture. Well, that is no fun. If I wanted to get along with everyone, I’d go join a hippie commune and grow vegetables. The only arguments would be around the virtues of organic manure. How dull...
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