WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

Okay, so that title is little misleading, but I meant it to be that way. There are no politics in this post, but I titled as such hoping you might come here with your fingers twitching with anticipation to type out some all-caps angry comment against me or against those who are against me. Instead of talking about politics, we’re going to talk about negative Internet commenting.

The New York Times recently published an article about a site called Topix that was “initially envisioned as a hyperlocal news aggregator with separate pages for every community in the country.” Now, though, its main purpose seems to be for anonymous users to perpetuate gossip. On the Mountain Grove, MO board, for example, tempers run very high, causing residents to get divorces, consider suicide, or leave town altogether. I only had to click on the first post I saw to find this juicy tidbit...


I’m not much of an acronym expert, so I’m not sure I understand exactly what “the truth” is trying to say, but it sounds pretty mean. Now, though, something different seems to be happening. The Times article has roused the do-good-o-sphere of the Internet into action. And what are they doing? They’re… also posting kinda mean stuff to this forum. But it’s for the greater good, right? Just look at this intelligent little thread:


Nothing says “I’m above this” like an accusation of inbreeding! And, as if that wasn’t enough, some of the comments on the Times article itself are equally frustrating. Here is what David from NYC has to say:


While it is well-worded and more insightful than the above posts, I can’t help but feel it is just as condescending. Coming from a small town three hours north of the city, I’m not that excited to hear New Yorkers analyze small town dynamics. In fact, my town, Pine Plains, was featured as a weekend haven in a condescending Times article of its own in 2003. One line sticks out in particular: when discussing the local wine and spirits shop, the author writes, ”...it was hard to distinguish weekenders from the full-time residents with people bundled in uniform layers of turtlenecks, flannel shirts and down jackets.” Because get us out of those turtlenecks and we'll look like a different species or something, right?

Now, I don’t mean that, because I grew up in Upstate New York, I understand Mountain Grove, MO. I don’t. Not at all. In fact, a lot of people from there there probably also don’t understand Mountain Grove, MO. That’s why analyzing Mountain Grove, whether from without or within, isn’t going to bring some greater understanding; it’ll just bring frustration.

What I see as the value of the article (as well as the reaction to it) is to show that most of us are naturally inclined towards negativity. The Internet gives us a place where we can express our opinion anonymously, which is to say without much concern for the consequences of our words. However, the reaction to our negativity will occur regardless of whether or not we have to watch it or a be a part of it at all.

I, on the other hand, am contractually obligated to watch the negative reaction to this post unfold, so please people, let the comments fly!

badorangecat


quality posts: 1 Private Messages badorangecat
Please people, let the comments fly!



I think you are wonderful, Topix is wonderful, Mountain Grove is wonderful, and all the people expressing themselves are wondeful.

Sometimes a box of cigars is just a box of cigars.

aqsmith


quality posts: 0 Private Messages aqsmith

Please misspell a word or misuse punctuation lest I will have nothing to scream about.

joejoethedogfaceboy


quality posts: 0 Private Messages joejoethedogfaceboy

Ha! A fellow Bomber! I'm guessing that you either a) haven't been pack to PP lately or b) have not been gone long enough to notice, because it is very easy to pick out the weekenders from the locals. When I was there this past summer, it was funny to see the Zagats enjoying a meal on the front deck of one of the "out of towner" restaurants while next door some locals were swilling beer from cans while sitting on a house porch that had an air conditioner propped up on a chair! (No joke!)

What was my point? Oh, right! Since I live in Dallas now and have a link to someone at Woot (PP class of '87), can I go down to the Dallas warehouse and browse around a bit? Or maybe just tell me the secret door knock so I can pick up my stuffs without having to pay shipping?

Listen2Reason


quality posts: 4 Private Messages Listen2Reason

If I were to make one of those really negative comments, I'd feel incredibly guilty, anonymous or not. Doesn't anyone else on the internet have a conscience?

dugaboggy


quality posts: 3 Private Messages dugaboggy

Small town, big town, doesn't matter... it's human nature. Anonymity makes us mean. Only really crazy people would go around the streets of that town with a poster that said "YOU ALL SUCK!!! Please see my name and address below..."

Yorn


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Yorn

This post has nothing to do with politics. "I am disappoint."

inkycatz


quality posts: 105 Private Messages inkycatz
Listen2Reason wrote:If I were to make one of those really negative comments, I'd feel incredibly guilty, anonymous or not. Doesn't anyone else on the internet have a conscience?



No.

I'm just hanging out, really.

tenieldjo


quality posts: 1 Private Messages tenieldjo
dugaboggy wrote:Small town, big town, doesn't matter... it's human nature. Anonymity makes us mean. Only really crazy people would go around the streets of that town with a poster that said "YOU ALL SUCK!!! Please see my name and address below..."



I think that anonymity is only part of it; the emotional remoteness factors in as well. For example, when you hear about genocide in Africa, you feel sad for a while and you move on because there's not much you can do and it's a world away so it's easy to not think about. Obviously this is an extreme example, but I'm trying to think of things that will be most universally accepted as being true, and genocide is something everyone can agree on being unabashedly evil. The point is, if you went there and saw the people suffering in person rather than hearing about it, the reality of the situation would almost certainly stick.

Similarly, you're saying mean things to a strange name on a long wall of text, not a person you can see and touch. People on the internet, interactions not in person, just feel less "real" and so what you do or say has less impact. It's like yelling at a character in a book or movie. If you said some of these things to someone's face, knew more about them and their circumstance, or just had to be there to watch their reaction, suddenly what you're doing and saying has weight and impact. I think that has at least as much to do with why people are the way they are as just not having any personal accountability. It's hard to empathize with a username!

That said, left to their own devices and given no accountability but to themselves, not everyone will be a huge jerk. However, people will be more willing to say things without thinking of how it will affect people, or saying what they really think. If you really think that, say, Hitler was a pretty good guy, then yea you'll be a terrible person given a username to hide behind. But what everyone really thinks isn't necessarily bad, otherwise the world would be like some dystopian sci-fi.

dseanadams


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dseanadams

Staff

joejoethedogfaceboy wrote:Ha! A fellow Bomber! I'm guessing that you either a) haven't been pack to PP lately or b) have not been gone long enough to notice, because it is very easy to pick out the weekenders from the locals. When I was there this past summer, it was funny to see the Zagats enjoying a meal on the front deck of one of the "out of towner" restaurants while next door some locals were swilling beer from cans while sitting on a house porch that had an air conditioner propped up on a chair! (No joke!)

What was my point? Oh, right! Since I live in Dallas now and have a link to someone at Woot (PP class of '87), can I go down to the Dallas warehouse and browse around a bit? Or maybe just tell me the secret door knock so I can pick up my stuffs without having to pay shipping?



PP represent! And I do agree with you; I go back [fairly] often to visit my parents and it's easy to tell the weekenders from the locals. Unfortunately, I can't hook up you up with a poke-around-the-warehouse tour because they keep us writers in Seattle.

Class of 87? You very well might have gone to high school with my older brother. Small world!

werdwerdus


quality posts: 13 Private Messages werdwerdus
tenieldjo wrote:I think that anonymity is only part of it; the emotional remoteness factors in as well. For example, when you hear about genocide in Africa, you feel sad for a while and you move on because there's not much you can do and it's a world away so it's easy to not think about. Obviously this is an extreme example, but I'm trying to think of things that will be most universally accepted as being true, and genocide is something everyone can agree on being unabashedly evil. The point is, if you went there and saw the people suffering in person rather than hearing about it, the reality of the situation would almost certainly stick.

Similarly, you're saying mean things to a strange name on a long wall of text, not a person you can see and touch. People on the internet, interactions not in person, just feel less "real" and so what you do or say has less impact. It's like yelling at a character in a book or movie. If you said some of these things to someone's face, knew more about them and their circumstance, or just had to be there to watch their reaction, suddenly what you're doing and saying has weight and impact. I think that has at least as much to do with why people are the way they are as just not having any personal accountability. It's hard to empathize with a username!

That said, left to their own devices and given no accountability but to themselves, not everyone will be a huge jerk. However, people will be more willing to say things without thinking of how it will affect people, or saying what they really think. If you really think that, say, Hitler was a pretty good guy, then yea you'll be a terrible person given a username to hide behind. But what everyone really thinks isn't necessarily bad, otherwise the world would be like some dystopian sci-fi.



tl;dr version: Godwin's Law 1, humanity 0

tenieldjo


quality posts: 1 Private Messages tenieldjo
werdwerdus wrote:tl;dr version: Godwin's Law 1, humanity 0



:P Strictly speaking, I didn't compare anyone or any point to Hitler or Need more history channel.s, I just said that if someone was all for Hitler they're probably not a good person. The point was that if someone is a walking hyperbole they'll always be inclined to be a jerk given anonymity but most people aren't like that.

bubbak


quality posts: 0 Private Messages bubbak

This is some awesomely insightful crap you be slinging here! Good job!

drequador


quality posts: 0 Private Messages drequador

Without the negative people who could us non negative folk be able to be negative about, or come up with some psycobabble about how they may or may not be. People are negative some of the time but not all of the people are negative all of the time. Instead of flouride in the water lets just put in lithium and calm avery one down....ohhh I fogot that is a conspiricy theorists real thought...Keep up the great blogging

jamesbottomtooth


quality posts: 41 Private Messages jamesbottomtooth

woot forums are not much different, or any other message board for that matter

WalterK01


quality posts: 1 Private Messages WalterK01

Wow - Well written and I had fun reading it - and then it occurred to me that Yahoo news commenter’s are the same nasty people that comment on Topix. Then I recalled that these must be the same people commenting on Huffington Post and Market Watch. Yes Yes anonymous comment brings out the medieval in a lot of people. Everybody has become perfect in their own mind and they have no compassion left.

dsmmrm


quality posts: 7 Private Messages dsmmrm

You're a dork and your opinion is worthless.

Nope, I don't feel any better now. Maybe I am not being negative enough. How about this?

If you are the type of person that does the tldnr thing you are truly a symbol of what is wrong with our country. Adults with the reading skills of a third grader and the attention span of a hamster should not be entitled to vote or reproduce. Raising a child and deciding who runs the show requires a bit more thought than some people are capable of.

That is all.

virgilcaine


quality posts: 1 Private Messages virgilcaine
BensonM wrote:
*wipes drool from keyboard*



Thanks a lot! I just laughed out loud at WORK! Work is never funny! What if someone finds out I'm on Woot?

FenStar


quality posts: 16 Private Messages FenStar

0MG! ThE woRld i's eNd fr0m In3teRnEtZ!

Still single, can't imagine why.

jrh402s


quality posts: 0 Private Messages jrh402s

Nice aritlce. I've never lived in Mountain Grove, but I've visited several times. It SEEMS like a normal place. With 5000 or so people it's not even that small in the grand scheme of things. The county seat only has 500 people and there are terrorist cells with more people in them than some Missouri towns.