I Need to Stop Reading Comments

So, this is not about reading the comments on blogs that I know or trust or the comments on my own articles, but I have a terrible habit about delving into the comments of controversial articles. Recently, it has been reading the comments on the measles outbreaks. The biggest problem is that it just infuriates me to no end. I do not comment back because I know it is pointless and stupid, but even reading some of the comments makes me weep for the future of humanity. At the same time it is the same reason that people slow down for an accident you are at least a little bit curious at how bad it gets. At the same time that can often just get depressing because most anonymous online forums can get pretty bad and that is not even looking at sites that seem to specifically speak to these issues. So to follow are some reasons I need to stop reading comments.

It is Pointless

The main reason I need to stop is it really is pointless and waste of time. Many of the people who actually comment on controversial articles are adamant in their position and completely unwilling to listen to anything else. There is no arguing with people like that because often rational argument does not come into play or they say that you do not know anything. The other piece is that a lot of these can fall into conspiracy theory territory. That is when it can truly go into crazy town and we begin to wonder just how far the rabbit hole goes. It can be addictive reading these outrageous claims, often on both sides of the argument because they just seem to get more and more outrageous. At the same time reading it all is so pointless because both sides are just digging their own trenches deeper so that they can keep lobbing grenades, which ultimately does nothing larger for the discussion.

Troll la lo la lo

Another reason is that there really are people who just go around on the internet looking for a fight. They want to incite anger and frustration. They want to see how many posts in all caps they can get others to post and sit back and revel in the rage of others. Personally it is a sad existence, but is definitely part of the commenting scene online. I think there are probably some locations that lend themselves to being trolled more than others and certain subject matters where you know it will be easy to get a rise out of something. The whole purpose is to derail the conversation and that is part of what is so frustrating. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have intelligent discussion without someone coming in trying to push the boundaries.

Anecdotal Stories

The other issue with reading a lot of the comments sections is that you tend to get anecdotal evidence and stories. A lot of times the evidence that people demonstrate is not scientific or specific, but simply anecdotal. They tell these heartbreaking stories and in many ways how do you argue with that. When emotions are involved in can be impossible to make a truly rational argument because you are not rational. It is all about personal experience, but that does not actually give us good information to go off. It either scares us or makes us think that things are not as bad as everyone says or is simply depressing as hell. There is no winner in those situations because it is still just one story, but a story has so much power to it and that power can have so much influence on other people. It is just frustrating though because it really is just anecdotal and does not touch on the larger picture that needs to be looked at.

In the end the big thing is that I need to stop reading comments. It often just leaves me angry and frustrated, which really is not something I need in my life.

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18 responses to “I Need to Stop Reading Comments

  1. You will find no disagreement from me on this. Swimming is fine, but swimming in sewage is not so fine.

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  2. I sometimes read comments for fun but only when I’m in the right mood for it. Otherwise, it just leaves me feeling that our planet is doomed…

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    • Sometimes it can be fun but I think that can depend on the article. Also if you read enough comments on one article subject any future comments tend to repeat themselves so repeating subjects can just be a practice in futility.

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  3. WordPress is the best. Youtube is the worst. But it’s always shocking to see what people are willing to put in comments out there.

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    • Yar. I probably spend as much time on YouTube as some of the places where I interact heavily. I do not read YouTube comments. I have only ever left three, I think. Two to bloggers who do video stuff, one to an indie musician I enjoy.

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    • I don’t know that I have read YouTube comments that often but that might be that I do YouTube on Apple TV so I don’t have easy access to the comments. I have seen sometimes what people say and it can be pretty terrible.

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  4. I pretty much don’t read comments except on blogs where I am either having a discussion, or where I know the blogger and am looking to interact with their readers as a way of meeting people and supporting their blog.

    You are right about it being pointless to argue with adamant people, and yes. both location and topic influence the likelihood of trolling occurring. I also think people are more and less vulnerable to it depending on their style of online interaction.

    I’m working on developing a set of criteria that people can use to see how vulnerable they are to getting sucked in by a trolling person. I geeked out on some online behavior analysis last weekend.

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    • I at least recognize not to engage except on spaces that I know and even that I am bad about doing. I just get so sucked in to other things on one hand and also am always thinking about all the things I want to do. It is distracting.

      Trolls know the phrases to say to get under your skin. Of course then what I do is yell at David about the stupid people on the Internet and he is like but it’s not me. So I have other areas to vent instead of writing a comment. I am amazed at how much time people can spend commenting back and forth in a single day. That in some ways it part of what is amazing.

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      • And I should note I didn’t even put her up to writing this post 😉 I wasn’t even there at the time!

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      • I can suck away a bit of time. I probably spend too much of my own on comment threads, but I’m trying to learn to choose my moments more carefully.

        And here is something not a lot of people realize. Even when people shroud their identities behind a mask of anonymity, and are completely dishonest about their views/motivations, every rhetorical decision gives people who know what to look for information about you.

        Rarely a good idea to toss words by the hundreds onto a single thread, IMO.

        All right, I am off to see what’s shakin’ at the Lobster Dance. Nice chatting, and awesome post.

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  5. Pingback: Editorial – We Desperately Need Comics | Comparative Geeks

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