Friday, 5 August 2011

we know who you are, thats why you cant come in you coke head ponce

The headline is an over-the-top comment left today by an anonymous writer responding to a wisp of a story on a showbiz gossip website. It had reported on the indignation of a minor Hollywood celebrity denied a backstage pass at a rock concert.
The target of the invective is inconsequential; I use it only because the reaction typifies the bile that many internet items attract where comment moderation allows. My example is modest in tone compared to some of the vitriol – often obscene – which is commonplace.
The advent of the internet has made possible a worldwide epidemic of what used to be called poison pen letters. What did these angry or envious people do before technology allowed them expression of their bitterness?
Take the sender of my headline comment. What mental process sent him or her surfing the web for the opportunity to vent their spleen against a Tinseltown also-ran? Did they feel the benefit having done so? Couldn’t their time and effort have been better spent?
Maybe not. Perhaps for some stressed people having what is effectively an electronic punch bag on which to exhaust their frustration is saving the NHS millions in tranquiliser prescriptions.
The cloak of anonymity may be central to the exercise. Perhaps people are not in a permanent state of anger but rather enjoy the exercise of giving the finger to almost anybody without, in most instances, the chance of discovery. This is none too healthy either.
Whatever prompts abusive comment, it is the reflection of a troubled soul. If we all sat around lotus eating content with our lot, there wouldn’t be much call on the consumer society. Advertisers’ stock in trade is to make us dissatisfied with what we have and crave what their clients have to sell.
If you want to know the strains and pressures of modern society, a short cut is to read the website comments as closely, if not more so, than the items that generate them.

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What do you think? GC