Opinions are like appendixes: Most people have them, we're not sure what good they do, and when they get too poisonous they just have to take them out. Unfortunately, we don't (yet) throw them in biological waste incinerators. Instead, they're shared online, usually in Facebook timelines and comment sections, but by far the worst offenders are columnists. Not, like, Cracked ones. Columnists for institutions that don't peddle dick jokes for a quick buck. These people are online outrage merchants and seem to be learning how to be assholes from the worst place imaginable: the most childish comment sections on the Internet.
Let's examine five types of deplorable Internet comments and the columnists from rather large institutions who are their living embodiment.
#5. Being Proud Of Ignorance
Jonathan Jones, The Guardian's art critic, spent an entire column calling Terry Pratchett novels trash despite never having read one, thus making everyone who read Jones' column better at his job than he is -- and all they did was actually read something before calling it garbage.
The only way Jones can hit a target.
As an art critic and a columnist, discussing things he knows about is Jones' only job. Deliberately picking something he doesn't know about would be like shitting on his keyboard instead of typing. Which is almost exactly what he did in the Pratchett column. He vented his internal waste instead of thinking, elevating the "You Had One Job To Do" meme to the international stage by dropping his pants to moon the idea of criticism. He mentioned once flicking through a Pratchett novel in an airport bookshop then spent the rest of the column bragging about reading Jane Austen and Bukowski, because he's apparently so smart he can extrapolate modern comedy from 18th-century misery and a rape apologist.
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"I also predict Stephen Hawking's next book won't be as smart as me."
Not knowing things used to be shameful. Now an army of idiots is trying to turn it into a badge of pride, an anti-llectual attempt to claim expertise because they know something sucks so hard they've carefully never learned anything about it. They claim crass ignorance as proof of intellectual purity. Columns like this only support this psychological septic tank higher over everyone's heads, all the better to overflow in every direction. This appeals to these people because they're reversing evolution to become stupider. Their reverse-biology already has them emitting shit from their mouths.
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They also reverse "global informational network" back to "LOUDER SHOUTING."
This is why every online discussion suffers a tide of opinions so ill-informed they could be used as WebMD for stupidity. Here, Jones is obviously doing it for clickbait, but he's also warned far more people that he's an idiot. Our hope is that this little bit of pus he's squirted into the face of the reading world -- a world he has separated himself from on purpose -- will act to inoculate them from ever reading him again, much as cowpox protected people from smallpox.
Columnist rage bait is like the common cold: constantly changing and shared by co-workers.
#4. Being Childishly Contrary (To Human Progress)
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The most elementary attention-getting is doing exactly what you're asked not to. That's literally elementary, as in school, but it's become a full-time adult occupation. The Spectator's Brendan O'Neill has escalated this assholishness to absurd new heights, the stinking endpoint of human processes, by applying this childish contrariness to anyone saying, "Please don't be such a sexist or racist jerk."
Poe's Law just filed a restraining order.
When barrister Charlotte Proudman told a creep that she didn't join LinkedIn for sexist come-ons, O'Neill reacted like she'd mandated a woman's workplace uniform of blood-washable gloves and a sausage slicer. She's gotten death threats over her reaction, but O'Neill still treated her like a hysterical fainter and squirted out every sexist-defense cliche in existence: It's just a compliment; there was no harm meant. He utterly unironically says that the accusations of sexism are inaccurate because she's not even that good-looking. I think he's trying to build a defense entirely out of the sighs of a sad penis.
He acts like feminists want to eliminate all emotions around women, possibly because horny unwanted advances and rage at their rejection of his depressing dick may be the only feelings he has around women. The replies to her original tweet were a Commenter Sutra, proving the sexism problem from every possible angle. You can't be stupid enough not to see it. You have to consciously decide not to. And columns like O'Neill's deliberately work to normalize everything wrong with the world. They brace the assholes against progress by reassuring them they're not alone.
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"What do women know about being women anyway? Am I right, guys?"
In a column where he tells women to just put up with whatever men want, whenever men want to make a situation sexual, he says, "Far better to have the occasional rough encounter," and there's no way he doesn't see the overtones. He wondered, "Hmm, should I really be putting rape implications on this post?" Then he thought, "Definitely" -- except that's a lie, because he didn't wonder or even think for a second. He presumably sniggered over his sexual-assault sniping while high-fiving his own ass with the article, because for him wiping and writing are synonymous.
In the past, complaining about a faraway stranger would result in revenge-fueled obsessives only if that stranger was God and you lived in Inquisition-era Spain. But now if you mock anyone, anywhere, they'll find it. They're looking for it. Complain about a man being sexist and dozens will describe every orifice in your family history to prove that they aren't. Say you don't like being shot and your timeline will be replaced with the Second Amendment. Hint that you don't like being murdered by salt-draining aliens and the M-113 fan club will try to get you banned from Twitter.
The strangest example of this was when PR professional Ed Zitron wrote a column about things that suck in the thrilling world of public relations. He criticized cold-calling reporters and the self-referential circle jerk of everyone in PR praising everything in PR. And then a company called Everything PR lost their minds.
They cut "stupid doo-doo head" for brevity.
Zitron's column didn't mention Everything PR at all, but they reacted like a Sonic The Hedgehog fan on a Mario forum. You'd swear Everything PR was a literal name and the embodied concept of the industry was reacting to a personal attack. They took up their blade to defend their noble trade, and the result looked like someone hacking at a keyboard with a broadsword. Like all the worst commenters out there, Everything PR mistook anger for an argument. Every idiot thinks their rage is a headline all by itself, but outside their own skull nobody cares, and inside that skull there's nobody there.
This company's only job is presenting a good image online, and nobody has professionally fucked their job so hard outside of robot pornography. It reads like Borat and Dril climbed into a telepod and hit their head on the way out. If Mad Men had hired Fez from That '70s Show and he internalized their bullying for seven seasons, this is how he'd complain. Running it through Google Translate into another language, then another language, then back to English would probably improve the clarity, but it may be too stupid for even the algorithm to bother.
On the upside, it would convince GoogleNet we aren't worth conquering.