If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, You're Not Alone

When I was first a writer on the Wonderful World Wide Web (that’s what we called it way back then; it was a happier, less cynical time), I got all excited when I found out that our articles were going to be open to comments from readers. I may as well have been wearing a camo diaper, I was such a babe in the woods. I actually thought that I would be engaged in a lively, spirited exchange on issues, with suggestions and personal stories that would lead to a better understanding and possibly more follow-up stories.

Instead, what I got was this:

Yu suck

This is terible.

You don’t know anything. This was not what I was looking for.

You people are a bunch of morons. If you don’t like staying at home with your kids, get a job. How hard is that.


Supposing that the last one wasn’t some ancient Chinese curse, this is a pretty good sample of what I get in a typical week: For every four nasty-grams, I get one - well, maybe not-so-nasty-gram. Luckily, I am given the control to preview the comments and allow or disallow. I do a lot of disallowing.

I’m certainly not alone. There’s enough hate out there to go around to every single person who shows up on the Internet. At the bar of life, the haters can say “Set ‘em up, Joe! The next one’s on me!” because lashings are cheap and easy. You don’t even have to know how to spell or talk good and stuff.

Karen Sandstrom wrote a guest column in The Plain Dealer yesterday about the pain of sending her first-born child to college in Colorado. She was dealing with it by eating Peppermint Patties and other guilty pleasures. Really a sweet column. Innocuous enough? Think again. Within an hour, comments like this started showing up:

The daughter was (sic) probably couldn't get away from this woman fast enough. Hundreds of thousands of students go away to college every year. People are sending their families and loved ones off to war and dangerous deployments. where the Amerian (sic) flag on their uniform is a bulls eye (sic) in the cross-hairs of a crazed militant insurgent. Seriously? And you worry about sending your kid off to a cushy safe college nestled in the Rocky Mountains? Get a life lady bury your head in a gallon of Ice cream. You need a reality check. (sic) (sic) (sic sic sicsic)

Another reader seemed to disagree about the safe part:

Luckily, your daughter is statistically more likely to flunk, develop a drug problem and put her tuition up her nose, or get knocked-up and leave college before she finishes. So she may be home with a pint of Haagen Daas before you know it. At just over $21,000 per semester for an out of state student living on campus, it's fairly likely that her debt load at graduation will bring her back home to live for a decade or so. Buy a cat.

Do these people know how to party or what? Let’s talk about campus rape, too! And meningitis, low job placement, late-teen suicide, the fact that many mental illnesses strike at around age 20, and the possibility that we’ll all be dead from a nuclear bomb within four years anyway. That poor girl will be going to community college in no time, and the mom will be rethinking her writing career.

I don’t know who the people are who nasty up my Internet party every day, but I’m glad I don’t know any of them in my real life. I know they live all over the country but in which neighborhoods, exactly? I’d like the addresses so I can continue to avoid them like registered sex offenders.

When I was in The Wall Street Journal, there were some nasty comments tacked onto the end of the story. I stopped reading them when someone criticized my kitchen. (Call me fat and ugly, say I’m a loser, question my intelligence, whatever. But keep your negative vibe off my house.)

That’s why I was so glad to hear that Tina Fey had struck back. When she accepted her Golden Globe award for 30 Rock, she said, “If you ever start to feel too good about yourself they have this thing called the Internet and, um, you can find a lot of people there who don’t like you.”  And then she told those people to suck it.

Let’s join her. Hey, Internet haters: Suck it. But I mean that in the nicest way.

Labels: , , , , , ,