Note: I realize that by virtue of this being a criticism of the various types of people in the comment section, I am probably setting myself up for an onslaught of nonsense in the comment section. Come at me, bro.
Seriously, if there is some kind of intelligent life floating in a flying saucer somewhere in space, analyzing mankind, I have no doubt that their first response upon seeing any average Internet comment section would be, “Oh my god, we’ve got to kill these things!”
Despite my illustrious history of browsing Youtube, participating in fan forums, and sending content, like this article, into cyberspace, I am still often shocked by how low humanity falls when it comes to posting in comment sections.
Sexists, racists, bigots, holy wars (typically Christian vs. Atheist), twelve year olds with extensive vulgar vocabularies…If you can imagine an evil in civilization, it probably exists in legions on any number of websites. One could almost reasonably expect this sort of behavior on a site like Youtube, where cat videos and footage of rednecks injuring themselves are the dominating factors; but even on our beloved Thought Catalog, a perceived safe haven for expression, we have the same trolls and unnecessary aggressors as the seediest 4chan post.
Now, to be clear, when I use the term “troll” or “aggressor”, I’m not talking about people who may disagree with a particular piece of content that take it upon themselves to voice this disagreement and I’m not talking about people who ask questions and inspire valuable discussion within a comment thread. After all, that’s why we have comment sections — to provide feedback, both good and bad, and to encourage a sense of community via communication.
The “trolls” in question are the people who, for no apparent reason, post something like “You’re a gay homo fag bitch ass pussy and someone should beat you to death with a big black cock.” (I kid you not; those types of comments are out there). The women who can’t read another woman’s article without throwing the word “bitch” or “slut” out there in an obvious display of jealousy and girl-on-girl hate. The men who read a woman’s article and threaten to gag her on his cock to shut her up or demands that she get back to the kitchen. The women who tell every male writer that he is a rapist and a misogynist. The men who read the same article and call the author a “man-gina”. The person who abuses the phrase “check your privilege” as a more acceptable way of saying, “I think I’m better than you”. The religious zealot that condemns the creator of content to burn in hell and the outspokenly faithless who calls him a fucktard for having any faith at all. These are the people who will shoot down any person who has accomplished something, using words like “stupid”, “cliché”, “vapid”, and “worthless” from the safety of their computer screens (then why don’t you write something and get it published??)
Even worse is the combative component that runs rampant with these types of commenters. For every vulgar, hate-filled comment is a kinder soul who tries to make apologies for the troll’s behavior, tries to engage the hater in intelligent conversation, or straight up calls out negativity where they see it. This will be met with full fury and no quarter will be given. I have watched a troll carry on for days, months, YEARS, trying to defend the fact that the writer of a satire on Tinder culture is, in fact, a “gay homo fag”. THEY JUST DO NOT GO AWAY!!
You can’t help but wonder who these people are in the world outside their web presence. What sickness of the mind or great misfortune in their lives has compelled them to find comfort in being a boil on the ass of humanity? Why is negativity so comfortable and so popular? What do you gain from preying on a stranger?
I don’t have the answers for any of these questions. I just hold onto the hope that, for every troll and hater, there was at least one person, the creator of the content, who contributed something to the world and that there are still those who will always choose to build their fellow man up instead of tearing him down. (I also secretly hope that all Internet trolls will be reincarnated as punching bags in some dank, sweaty, dilapidated Gold’s Gym in another life.)
So, if there are any aliens reading this, don’t enslave or exterminate humanity just yet. Because the existence of trolls also means the existence of free expression, creative successes, and contributors and maybe, with time, the trolls will grow up (or my punching bag Karma theory will come true) and the world will be a little kinder, a little more positive.