Thursday, May 03, 2012

Vicious comments, blogs, and alienation

I'm as guilty of this myself as anyone else, but I can confidently say that the things I post here don't go down to the level you find on newspaper websites. Why have comments on newspaper stories become a cesspool of hate? I think the amount of negative comments is linked to the commenters' sense of alienation from their community. If someone feels that they're part of that community, that it embodies good values and that it functions well, they're going to be much less likely to leave nasty comments. But if there's a disconnection between the individual and their community, then, well, that instant link from computer to computer makes it very easy for the full frustration to translate out into the world. The reasons for the disconnect are probably very different,  different for right wingers than for left wingers, for liberals than for conservatives, but they all want to express it. Folks are used to describing people who feel disconnected from their community as mixed nuts, as people who for personal reasons can't get along with society, but the truth is probably much deeper than that.  Another factor is the computer screen itself, which, although interactive, is less real and immediate physical than holding a piece of paper. That simple change alone could lead people to feel more disconnected from the community than if they had a tangible artifact from outside of their personal lives that they interacted with.

I know when I post here, the pissed-offedness of the writing has a direct correlation with frustrations over current events. Running something yourself, though, is an antidote to alienation.  Hopefully a blog can provide a type of structured experience that goes beyond random, insulting, comments on newspaper's website, even if the content is confrontational. 

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