Friday, August 26, 2011

The Message Boards are the Scariest Place on the Internet

In As Good As It Gets (1997), Jack Nicholson's character is asked how he writes women so well in his books, Nicholson being a writer. The irritated author replies, "I think of a man, then take away reason and accountability". 

The message boards are like 4Chan, if you subtract reason, intelligence and a modicum of sanity.

So it begins.
The place has the perfect blend of ingredients for total anarchy. There are no omnipresent mods, although particularly offensive comments do get deleted. There are no names or faces, and accounts are easy to make, so there's no accountability. And best of all, because everybody's a fan of one NFL team, absolutely everybody comes to the party ready to whale on 31 other factions.

Whether your player was ranked too low or criticized or someone else was ranked too high, there's always some reason to cuss out both the writer of a given article and anyone else within reach. And boy, do they cuss. I was reading a Michael Lombardi article (who I've read a lot of on and on; he's a Peter King-like writer and a good football analyst) on the best players in the league and practically every commenter was saying you suck, you're horrible, you should be fired because you ranked XXXX lower than YYYY, leaving ZZZZZ off the list is criminal (Criminal! Can you imagine?), and so on and so forth. For every positive comment towards a given article/other poster, there's 10-15 negative ones.

The only saving grace is that swear words are technically unlawful. I say technically, because since nobody gives a rip, the commenters find moderately clever ways to cuss each other out anyway ("b u l l s h i t, bullsh!t, bullshet, etc). The restriction also does nothing at all to mitigate the vitriol on the boards, just the ways in which it can be expressed. It's one big crowd of loud, angry, overwhelmingly male, poorly articulating, flagrantly misspelling, misogynistic all-hating assholes.

Oh, and few commenters even try for correct grammar or spelling, so it's that much more of a mess. There are some reasonable comments, sure, but the lack of a direct 'reply to this comment' function leads to one huge confused thread instead of lots of little threads that make sense. The reasonable comments get lost in a sea of misdirected Internet rage.

No comments:

Post a Comment