Don’t Want to See the Worst of Us? Stay Out of the Comments Sections
If you’re having a decent day, it’s best to stay out of social media comments sections, a playground for the worst of the worst.
Social media is the worst.
Actually, let me clarify that, because I do extract some joy from videos I find online of little goats jumping on trampolines.
The comments sections on social media are the worst.
No matter what innocuous thing you post online, there will be at least one person — or, more likely, a few — who will disagree with what you said or offered up to the world, and take it upon themselves to tell you why.
Go ahead. Try it out for yourself. You can just delete them after.
The comments sections are even worse when they’re related to political articles. I try to avoid them…OK, that’s a lie. When I see something that I feel I could provide some gentle education about, I share that information. It’s probably obnoxious to the recipient, but at least I have enough perspective to admit that.
There’s just a lot of weird stuff out there that exists solely because some people gather all the information they need from memes, and I feel a civic duty around my attempts to remedy that.
If you spend enough time in the comments section, which I admit I’ve been sucked into more than a few times during this pandemic, you’ll start to notice trends. You can essentially group the kinds of comments you’ll see into seven main categories.
What I’ve found below are real life examples in each of those main categories. Keep in mind that I wasn’t about to fix any spelling or grammar mistakes. I didn’t want to offend the original posters, after all.
I have anecdotal evidence to prove the initial post is inaccurate.
Anecdotal evidence is just the best during a pandemic. What you’re saying can’t be true, because I know someone who had an experience that disproves whatever it is that you’re saying.
For example, in response to a post on the efficacy of masks as they relate to outdoor exercise:
“My neighbor got a face full of spittle this morning because a jogger was not wearing a mask. Are you going to pay for his hospital bill when he’s fallen ill with the coronavirus?”
In response to an article on underground haircut rings:
“How dare you tell me that what I need is not essential. When my hair gets too long I get headaches.”
In response to a well-researched article on the timeline for potential vaccines:
“18 months according to my daughter who is a doctor and works for the FDA!”
It must be true, because you know someone who knows someone who has the real facts.
Generally, when you disagree with something and don’t have evidence to make your point a good one, this one is a go-to. I’d provide you with an example, but I already have. That’s often what the comment is. It’s just “FAKE NEWS!”
If you’re turning this into a drinking game, you get double points for finding comments with the use of “lamestream media.”
I never knew there were so many infectious disease experts out there until now. As a society, it would appear that we’re blessed with a bounty of doctors and economists, as well, if social media comments are to be believed.
Oh. You’re not any of those things? I see. You just believe you know better than the real experts in their fields, for reasons unknown.
For example, in response to an article on the long-term effects doctors have been reporting among those who survived the coronavirus:
“I already had it. Was sick for a couple days. Had a cough for a couple weeks. I’ve had colds that were worse. Like I said, if I were old I would stay in. It’s no different then the flu. Old people get the flu vaccine Bc it will kill them.”
In response to a fairly innocuous post about easy ways to strengthen your immune system:
“Our immune systems weaken the longer we are isolated. We will see this response with the annual cold and flu season if this continues.”
In response to an article about Orange County residents defying statewide social distancing measures at their beaches:
“Newsom must have missed the memo that UV rays from sunshine, kills the virus.”
Who knew that I was unnecessarily wrapping myself in such uncertainty, when so many in the comments sections have all of the answers?
You may think this is awesome, but it’s actually awful.
This one is essentially the Debbie Downer. No matter how positive a reaction you think a post should receive, it only takes one to bring everyone else down.
For example, this one was under an ad for the SodaStream. Apparently someone’s need for fizzy water is essential in this moment, and they wanted to share that with you:
“Don’t expect it to show up anytime soon.”
This one, along with several similar comments, was underneath a story about a dog shelter emptying out for the first time ever:
“I sincerely hope all the adopters feel that a dog is for life, and not something to dump when they’re done playing with it or when they have to go back to work.”
This gem was underneath a recipe post for a Chinese dessert:
“SURPRISED THIS ISN’T BAT SOUP”
Nothing is safe.
This isn’t relevant, but I need to say it anyway.
Many people who post nonsense comments on social media don’t actually read the accompanying article. They’re a reactionary bunch, and make assumptions based on the headlines.
Inevitably, you’ll then have a number of comments berating that person for not having read the article. So fun.
For example, this one was underneath an article from NPR as to when exactly the World Health Organization alerted everyone to the coronavirus:
“Meanwhile, nurses are out there making dance videos on Tik Tok, asking for more PPE.”
If you’re like, “What does that have to do with the article?” The answer would be, absolutely nothing. This person just wanted to get something off of his chest about nurses. Maybe he was dumped by a nurse at some point. It’s impossible to say.
In an article about Vice President Mike Pence looking to punish the journalist who was the first to report he wasn’t wearing a mask at a recent visit to the Mayo Clinic:
“Where is the congressional hearing for Joe Biden believe all women until its your team”
Sometimes it seems like people just need to get a gripe off of their chests, even when that gripe doesn’t quite fit the topic at hand. At least someone feels better.
I’m a bot.
These are the spam comments, the ones promoting blockchain or other things I don’t understand. They tell you that you can make $1,000 working from home, or that you need to spend money to make money. There’s usually a WhatsApp number attached if you’d like more information about how to change your life with little risk.
They’re prevalent enough that I felt the need to mention them, but I won’t justify their existence with examples. You know what I’m talking about.
I’m going to call you a name/say something offensive/threaten violence.
When you really get under someone’s skin, or are dealing with someone who may not have the brainpower to come up with a factual, even witty response, the situation can devolve into name-calling. People on the Internet are bullies, because they’re on the Internet.
On the street, they’d be punched in the face.
But online, there are many folks out there who just aren’t being their best.
For example, here’s a comment in response to recent protest activity across the country:
“Libtards don’t understand people wanting to work.”
Here’s another under the same article:
“So the takeaway is republicans aren’t chickensh*t. Democrats cower and look for government instruction”
You can probably tell I support one side of the political spectrum over the other, but both sides are guilty of this one. Dealing with someone who, in your mind, can’t see reason can get so frustrating that you find yourself coming down to their level. I’ve seen people wishing the virus on protestors, and hoping for higher death counts in red states just to prove whatever point they’re looking to prove.
That’s not right.
Here’s an example from an op-ed on relaxing shelter-in-place restrictions:
“keep eating the that Humpty Dumpty for brain’s is feeding you on a daily basis’s. Keep drinking the bleach chump’s RIP”
I had to work pretty hard to understand what that one even said, as I may have been distracted by the reference to Humpty Dumpty. But I think the gist is that this person is wishing a sentence of death by bleach on his detractors.
The worst in this category is the threats of violence, more often coming from the “very good people” who have been showing up to state capitol buildings armed to the teeth as if the Red Coats are coming.
Here’s one from a man who is obviously looking to compensate for something on an article in response to continuing shelter-in-place restrictions in California:
“And that’s when he’s going to see the right wing of his state give him the collective middle finger. They have 2A if he’d like to push the issue.”
Who hurt you, sir?
You may think this is a conspiracy theory, but you’re just under their control.
Conspiracy theories no longer come from the deep recesses of the Internet that you’d expect them to be coming from. There are enough weird “media outlets” out there that anyone can share the wackiest of theories with no basis in reality.
That also means those theories can result in a following of like-minded thinkers.
Here’s an example from someone in the anti-vaxxer crowd on an article about expected timelines for a successful vaccine:
“be a sheep with the vaccine and be traced for the rest of your life…”
There’s been a lot out there about how Bill Gates wants us all chipped so that we can be under the control of…actually, I’m not sure. I tried looking into it further but it was all getting a little bit too Black Mirror for my tastes.
Anti-vaxxers come from all sides of the political spectrum, by the way.
You’ve also likely come across links to YouTube videos about “doctors” admitting that the numbers we’re seeing about coronavirus deaths are inflated. Some are even saying that there have been coordinated efforts at hospitals to inflate numbers to fit the narrative that this thing is a menace to society.
For example, here’s a comment that went along with one such YouTube clip:
“What say you sheep?”
Here’s another on an article about airlines considering face mask requirements for passengers:
“Absent the ridiculous requirements to don one, the only value of the mask is to determine which of the “cattle” have bought in to this scam-demic.”
The rise of social media has so many benefits. I hate calling people on the phone, and now I can see you’ve made five babies just by going online and gazing upon their cherubic faces.
But it can be SO toxic, too.
There’s always an expert out there waiting to give their two cents.
There’s always someone out there who thinks they know better.
There’s always someone who will cross a line.
Social media can be the best, but it’s also the worst.
So what do we do, now that we’ve opened Pandora’s box and can see all of those awful things in black and white?
Seriously, I’m asking, because a guy in Michigan just posted something about his second amendment rights to protest with a rifle in his hands and it is taking all of my willpower not to respond…