31 May 2010

Article/Blog Comments: The World’s Soapbox

Yesterday, May 30, 2010, I was reading a Yahoo News article/update about the BP oil spill in the gulf of Mexico. As I scrolled to the bottom of the piece, I saw the comments section begin with the words “comments 1-10 of 77,083.”

Seventy-seven thousand comments (since May 1) about the article.

I’ve mentioned in other writing that I very seldom read blog or article comments. And I decided some time ago to not have a comments section on any of my blogs. Far too many comments show a certain lack of, shall we say, knowledge (OK, I’ll be politically incorrect: they’re written by idiots); are “comment spam” (folks trying to get in a free web plug); are abusive; devolve into comments about other comments (and the folks who wrote those other comments); or are a soapbox for preaching one’s personal political/religious/philosophical/business agenda.

But 77,000?

Of course, the gulf spill is a major event, and people are heartbroken and mad and confused. Some of the outpouring of comments are a way for people without any other outlets to have their voices heard and to exorcise their personal fears and frustrations. And scanning a few of the comments (that’s all I could take), it seems that many really are wanting and needing to say something. Unfortunately, it’s seldom something substantive, or even something interesting – in the sense that someone else might be interested in reading it; that someone else would want to read those words.

Nonetheless, I especially enjoy reading ...
  • The armchair engineers who have the solution
  • The slams against politicians (Palin and Obama seem to be the favorites)
  • The spellings – my god, the misspellings and the utter lack of grammar
  • The “conspiracy thearies” that the spill was intentional to promote green energy, or it was terrorism, or that Halliburton is delaying cleanup so they can “harness the oil and then to retreeve it to sell on the open market
  • The comments in CAPITAL LETTERS
  • The 100-word-long comments with no punctuation or capitalization
  • 500-word diatribes about politics

And my favorite, today, when the comment count was up to 82,553...
82,500 comments? LMAO. This is sooooooooooo pointless! LOL...
As, of course, was that comment.

Is it that we’ve become so isolated looking at our laptop screens that we don’t have anyone real to talk with anymore? Have we become so wrapped up in our culture of “Hey Look at Me” that we take any opportunity to wave our own little flags? Is this our three seconds of fame?

I don’t really know, nor do I really understand it.
Eighty. Thousand. Comments.