Internet commenters are some of the lowest forms of life known on Earth. Here, we examine the why's, the who's, and the how's of the most cowardly, bitter people you'll never meet in real life.
The internet is a virtual wonderland, created by Al Gore sometime in the early 80's as a means for bringing people together in an all-new way. And bring people together it did, largely so that they might gather and share their love for awkward, freakish, and borderline illegal sexual fetishes (it is a widely documented fact that, when confronted with a new, potentially world-altering technology, man's first instinct will be to find a way to get it to provide them with pornography; See also: the disastrous "Two Girls, One Segway" project of '04). With that accomplished, man helped evolve the internet into a new arena of usefulness: a means to post horrifically racist, paranoid, and/or malicious comments about everything.
The internet commenter has been around ever since the internet came along and got everyone to quit playing so much goddamned Minesweeper. Virtually every website you go to will have a forum or a messageboard, and the ones that don't generally have a "comments" section to go along with whatever material the site is hosting. Pick a random site and start looking through the comments, and you will be dumbfounded at what you find.
Imagine if you were a hermit, or Rip Van Winkle (I know; it's one of my favorite fantasies, too! Do you ever dream about living in a pudding house? Me, too!!!), and you have spent your entire life separated from humanity. One day, you wake up to find a computer in your cave and instructions directing you to the nearest message board. Were this your first contact with other human beings, you would be convinced that everyone else out there was a racist, homophobic, violent lunatic or pedophile. You might think that the entire world had gone Republican (yeah, that's two Republican jokes; there's more where that came from, slapdick); The things being posted publicly online are just jawdropping in their vitriolic rage.
Anonymity is at once a great and terrible thing.
People who post angry little comments-- or, in some extreme cases, entire blogs-- online are normally the kind of people that would avert their eyes if you shot them the middle finger in traffic. Just think of how many cowardly, inverted people must have just exploded from not having an outlet for their rage before the internet came along.
There are basically 3 types of internet commenters, easily identified and even more easily categorized:
1. THE INTERNET TOUGH GUY: The ITG knows that he will never have to face an opponent in the real world. More often than not, the ITG has just spend a 48-hour stretch raiding dungeons or plundering wenches (or whatever it is they do on "World of Warcraft") and is still adrenalized from the high of showing some backbone for once in his fucking life, even if it was in a MMORPG. He will take issue with something you've said, and then he will spill Mountain Dew all over his keyboard as his arms furiously pinwheel while he hammers out some poorly-worded threat at you for thinking differently than him. In real life, this person cries whenever they go to a haunted house. Not a "real" haunted house, mind you; one that offers hay-rides alongside the main attraction. The ITG is the worst kind of pussy, and that includes Estelle Getty's deceased vagina.
Seen here, the Internet Tough Guy in "Fighting Stance"
2. THE VAGUELY-AND-THEN-EXPLICITLY RACIST/HOMOPHOBIC GUY: This commenter will enter into a series of back-and-forth's on a message board, generally in a discussion that has some distant relation to minorities or homosexuals. In the early stages of this tete-a-tete, the VATER/HG will make some very vague or subtle jabs at the minorities/homosexuals in question. If the subject being discussed does not include minorities or "faggots" (colloquial term), he will find a way to introduce them as part of his argument: a sort of "Exhibit D". Someone will invariably note his racism/homophobia, and then he will deny it. But prove him wrong on one more aspect of his argument, and that's when the full-blown tsunami of racism and homophobia will smash its way over the levees. Asked to comment on the fact that he denied his hatred earlier in the discussion, the VATER/HG will often revert to his alternate state: The Internet Tough Guy.
3. THE GUY WHOSE ENTIRE WORLD AND EVERYTHING IN IT SUCKS: This guy's the most frequently seen internet commenter. I guarantee you that there has been one of these sort on every message board you have ever come across. Virtually every topic up for discussion is a source for disdain. This commenter does not like anything, and will claim that whatever you're talking about "sucks" or "sucks balls" or "sucks these fucking balls lol pwned". If you're in a "Star Wars" thread, he'll be talking about how bad the new ones sucked. If you're in an "Obama" discussion, he'll tell you how big the balls are that Obama sucks. If you're on a free porn site (and you will be), he'll bitch about the camera angles, or how the way that black man cream-pied his mom sucks. He's just a fountain of bitching, and he's everywhere on the internet.
Now, you're probably wondering: Scott, how'd you get in my bedroom? And that's fair (Shh. Shh. Shhhhut the fuck up and just let it happen).
And now you're wondering: Scott, why is it that you keep referring to internet commenters as "guys"? Are there not bitchy women out there, too? And to that I say, good question! There are, in fact, women who have been trained by their masters to read, write, and operate a keyboard. Sometimes, while their masters are out earning a fucking living while their greedy, lazy female sits home and does nothing, these women will get online and start poking around to test out their new writing skills.
Because I write humor columns online, I frequently get irate comments and angry emails from people who didn't get the joke. I'd say that 99% of these emails and comments have been from men. A week or two ago, though, that statistic changed. And I learned, first-hand, that an angry female commenter is just as bad as a male one.
Again, this was a week or two ago. I was working on a weekly column that I run on another site called "It's OK to Hate", where each week we focus on a new group of people that I have deemed hate-worthy for one reason or another. In the beginning, the column focused primarily on groups like "People Who Talk on Their Cell Phones at The Movies", but I was worried that I wasn't being specific enough in my quest to encourage hatred. While brainstorming ideas for another group to pick on, I was in a tragic, freak accident that found me buried under a metric ton of gay pornography, plastic vampire novelty teeth, and gayness.
And that's when it occurred to me to write about "Twilight" and its fans.
During recovery from my terrible accident, I filed the latest "It's OK to Hate" column ("Twilight Fanatics"). This was late in the night, and immediately after publishing it I went to bed. About six hours later, I was wakened by the sound of my computer trying to fire a loaded gun at its head (for those that don't know, a computer's "head" has been proven by scientists to be the monitor area). Apparently, my computer was experiencing a sudden, overwhelming panic and depression, and as soon as I cracked open my email-box, I discovered why.
The first email's subject line read: "You're going to Hell!!!!!!"
The second email's subject line read: "FUCK YEW"
The third email's subject line read: "You must claim your prize!"
I quickly deduced that my computer was jealous that it had not won any prizes, and was reassuring it that I would buy it some scratch tickets when I realized something: that's not how you spell "you" at all. I opened the second email (of many, many emails that were to come that day. And night. And following week) and read the following:
"I hope you fucking die."
Intrigued, I read through the rest of the emails, some of them arriving even as I read the old ones. It became apparent very quickly that I had rattled the hornet's nest that is "Twilight" fandom with my article. EVen though I'd made great effort to label the column as "comedy", and even though I'd noted in the piece that I'd never read the "Twilight" books and wasn't even interested in Wikipedia-ing the series in order to educate myself enough to write the article, the natives had gone straight past "restless" and into "kamikaze" mode. The comments section on the article was as bad-- if not worse-- than the emails I'd received.
Another writer for the Examiner wrote her own article, basically a rebuttal of mine, and posted the following picture with her column:
Yes, that's my face, superimposed onto a copy of "Twilight". When I saw this, I just kind of stared at the screen. The internet commentators and "Twilight" fans had been so enraged, they'd felt the need to photoshop something. Clearly, this was serious business.
In the comments section, I had people telling me that I was "misogynistic", a "fuckface", an "asshole", and pretty much every other name you can think of other than "Dennis", which I mistakenly believed to be a derogatory name at the time. One woman angrily recounted her history of having had cancer, and how her daughter had read her the books while she lay sick and dying in the hospital. She seemed to be implying that the sheer magic of "Twilight" had aided in her recovery, which proved to me once and for all that there is no God.
The comments went on forever, and in between deleting the ones that I thought might alert the website enough to get the article pulled for good and answering the hate-email that I was getting, I spent a solid afternoon picking up the pieces of my "Twilight" article.
And 98% of those comments? Made anonyomously, or with initials for names. Some of them used aliases, like the crafty "Abe Lincoln" (who I determined, after a shocking visit to Wikipedia, was not the actual president; did you hear he got shot?!), but they weren't real names. And all the internet commenters that we talked about earlier? More of the same. Try reasoning with someone with the name "BallZonYerCHIN876" and see how far it gets you.
In conclusion, Al Gore gave all of us a very special gift when he created the internet. I can't think of any other invention in my lifetime that has changed the lives of everyone on Earth so dramatically, and, yes, I'm including the EggWave in that observational analysis. It's easy to bitch and moan about the commenters on the internet, but the real issue that we should be examining is what it all means. When given this chance to communicate with people all over the world, to share our stories, to bond with one another, we have instead chosen to bitch, moan, and attempt to "fight" people on message boards.
I'll tell you this: when the end finally does come, we'll have it coming. And you can bet that there'll be people on the messageboards bitching even as the world goes up in flames.