Don’t Raise The Bar, Just Put One SOMEWHERE

Anybody else here read the “comments” that now follow almost every online news story? I know I shouldn’t. It raises my blood pressure faster than a pound of bacon, but I can’t turn away. It doesn’t matter if it’s The Washington Post or Market Watch, the commentary offers a sort of voyeurism—a direct conduit into the minds of people I don’t want to know:  The friendly neighbors who invite you to dinner, where they regale you with stories about how the Jews are responsible for 9/11.

Who decided that readers should have an instant forum? Few people know enough about a subject to add to the story, and many people are MEAN, particularly when protected by anonymity. It’s like otherwise respectable people flipping each other off on the freeway.

Once upon a time—and not so long ago, so shut up—if people felt strongly enough to make a statement about something they had read in a paper or magazine, they mailed in a letter or postcard, often using entire sentences, and put their name on it. They had to pay for a stamp, and then hope the editor chose their particular point of view to include in the “Readers Reply!” section.

But now we are in the future. I still don’t have a personal helicopter, which still pisses me off, but I can read a story about economics, or education, or religion, and immediately write to tell the author publicly that he or she is not just wrong, but also a disgusting, pathetic loser who should be beaten in the parking lot. And then I can sign it “Patriot438” or “kooldood.”

I get most of my news from Canadian sources now, primarily the CBC, but that doesn’t mean the “commentary” is polite or intelligent. If they run a story about a farmer who gets caught in a thresher and loses an arm, the comments on the story will start with “My prayers are with that poor man.” Which is annoying enough.

But within five posts, someone will clock in with: “The guys to stuped to use his own tracter. Why shoud we pay for his medical bills?” A few posts later, the full-time internet jack-off brigade will be locked in mortal combat over the question, “Is public health care the Devil’s calling card?

Yes, we have those guys in Canada, too. Most Canadians, like most people everywhere, are sleepwalking through their days, doing their best to make a living while their jobs have gone to Mexico. Why? They don’t know. Nobody knows anything. But a sizeable number of our friendly neighbors have something to say, and they say it loud.

Yeah, yeah. Me too.

So here’s my idea. We all know that myriad websites, from traditional publications to vanity projects like (ahem) this one cover the spectrum of political news and thought. We also know that most responses to news articles are naive or beside the point. So let’s just allow the work of our writer pals to stand on its own merits. Or lack of same. We don’t need to know what some misguided, resentful buttfuck in Pocatello or Hamilton has to say. We don’t need to know. Down with reader forums!

So what do you think?


One Response

  1. Hi, this is a comment.
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