And I'm not talking from the position of a disapproving father figure, I'm not disappointed in anyone in particular, because I'm here, too. I'm treating this like I would treat the common area of a college dorm: We all have to share this- can we please not make it awful? I just want it to be presentable so, when my real friends show up, I won't be so embarrassed.
We're Forgetting To Not Be Jerks in Real Life
When web-surfing became too boring in the early days, which happened almost instantly, me and my other twelve-year-old friends would stumble into anonymous chatrooms and stir shit up. Just go in, figure out what was important to everyone chatting, and then talk about how shitty it was. Then we'd giggle and leave. We never meant any harm by it, we were just bored, and curious, and stupid, and going into a chatroom to make fun of a bunch of strangers was our version of making prank phone calls, (though, yes, we also made prank phone calls). Like most twelve-year-old trolls, how we acted in an anonymous chat room was vastly different from how we acted in real life.
Somewhere in the evolution of the Internet, that stopped being the case.
Chris Gethard is a writer/actor/comedian who performs with the UCB Theater in New York. Several months ago, he landed a show on Comedy Central called Big Lake, and it was fine. Or, I thought it was fine, (I'm a sucker for Chris Parnell). One IMDB commenter disagreed and thought it was so bad that he needed to hit the discussion forum on Gethard's page and openly proclaim that Gethard had "no discernible talent, no charisma, no personality, and no recognizable skills," and that he should "stop acting, spend a few years making atonements for [his] sins, and vow to never ever ever ever stand in front of a camera for the rest of [his] life." Now, that kind of thing is common on the Internet (hell, this particular posting is actually fairly tame). We expect people to hit the Internet and be as awful as they can be thanks to the thick layer of anonymity that a keyboard and computer screen affords them. We accept that, like Ghost Porn, the internet is full of invisible dicks. People will hide behind user names and scream about how much they hate this or that, or how this person, whose job it is to be creative, should never create anything ever again and should in fact seriously consider suicide. It's just a thing that happens, and there's no real surprise.
Well, Gethard decided to meet his troll face-to-face. So moved was Gethard by the IMDb comment, he actually tracked down the author, Travis, and flew him to New York for an on-camera discussion. The two had never spoken about the comment previously; they just sat down and had their first conversation about it, right on camera.