What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

25 April 2011

U is for Umbrage

This is not going to be a Harry Potter-related post. While I have many, many things to say about the character of the similar-sounding name who made me want to scream (geez, JK Rowling has such a gift!), I'm writing about the more common kind of umbrage. The kind that you can find on the internet, without even having to try hard.

For instance. Last Friday, I saw a few Facebook friends mention the Earth Day promotion at Starbucks (if you brought a reusable mug, you got free tea or drip coffee. If you missed it, mark your calendar for next year). So I went to the Starbucks website to confirm this before dropping by, mug in hand. And sure enough, there was the post announcing the promotion-- and a whole bevy of comments below. I generally avoid comments on the internet (except for on blogs, of course), because I find that a "comment" section is generally a soul-sucking vortex of incoherent ranting. My instructor Do Not Cross says that the comments on YouTube make her worry about the future of humanity. And that's pretty much how I feel.

But on this day, I had my guard down and let my eye wander. I don't think it took two comments for this really brilliant promotion that included free drinks to devolve into an argument about politics, religion, global warming, and how stupid such-and-such commenter is. Really? Starbucks is handing out free coffee, and all people can do is argue about left-wingers and whether there is such a thing as a 'true' Christian? I had no idea that free coffee was so controversial.

Now, I believe all my readers to be lovely people who leave intelligent, reasoned comments. So I realise that I'm preaching to the choir when I encourage you, with all the strength I have in me, to refrain from such nonsense. Seriously, let's not go around taking (and leaving) umbrage. Let's see if we can continue raise the level of conversation on the internet. I know you all are brilliant writers, because I've visited your various blogs, and the general tone of your comments also seems to be within the realm of common sense. Good job, writing and A to Z bloggers!

Do you bother with internet comments? Do they drive you crazy? Or do you think I'm ruining all your fun?


Mia Hayson said...

Ohhhh Youtube. Well I tend to avoid the tres WEIRD and ones that have taken up the "classic youtube" format but I kind of find them interesting to read. Uhm. Ha. I guess since I study Psychology I find it interesting to see what things boil down to. I think a lot of it is because people think they are anonymous on the internet. And the anonymous nature dehumanises the conversation?

HOWEVER! I do know of several places on Youtube that I love to read because they're nothing like the dark corners. The Vlogbrothers for instance! I love how respectful and educated people are in their comments.

<3 <3 <3

Loralie Hall said...

I know someone who loves to read the stupid comments as much as the posts, but I'm like you. A conversation degrades like that and it just makes me have to walk away. I think it's so unfortunate that people have to be that way.

Anonymous said...

I've learned to stay away from the comments section on YouTube and WalletPop etc etc. A lot of stuff from Waaaaaay out in left field on there. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it would help if they actually stayed on topic.

Anonymous said...

I listen to music on Youtube all the time. Sometimes I get stuck reading the comments, and I'll say, they sure are stupid. I never take part in them, though when some -insert nasty word of choice here- said that people need to listen to Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and not music created by computers (in my case, rock), I really wanted to correct that ignorant person. I'm pretty sure rock artists didn't use computers in the 80's. . . seriously. I, too have lost faith in humanity.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I see them on certain CNN news articles, and yes, they spiral down into innane and bitter.

RJR said...

It amazes me that people comment on YouTube videos to say how much they dislike them ??? Well why watch them then ???

I have to say to date I have found most bloggers to be very polite and civilised.


JEFritz said...

I can't stand commenters on big sites. On my blog, maybe because I have some contact with these people, the comments are always pleasant. But if I accidentally scroll to the comment section on a news site, I'm inflicted with people telling my why everything I believe in is destroying the world.

I know the internet is relatively anonymous, but that doesn't mean you can be a jerk.

Su said...

@Mia: If I were more interested in psychology, then I might enjoy the crazy that comes in comments. Alas, I am not. But thanks for letting us know about the good places to go!

@Loralie: I just can't be the person who finds the comments interesting. I'm too easily irritated by ignorance/trolls.

@mybabyjohn: Right. Quite a bit of the ranting could be avoided if people would stick to the subject at hand!

@Madeline: Isn't it sad? I just have to hope these people are only trying to stir the pot and don't really believe what they are writing.

@Diane: Oh, yeah. News articles can be the worst!

@RJR: I think so, too. There's one commenter on one of the Runner's World online blogs who comes by every day to complain about the content-- well, who's making you read it? Perhaps these people are serving a bizarre prison sentence whereby they must read stuff they don't like on the internet, but are allowed to comment freely. That's the best theory I can come up with.

Charlie's Church of Christ said...

apparently there are people out there who drug and alcohol rehab programs are a scam and are out to use and abuse people. When the program I worked for announced they were closings I read some of the comments on the news stories about it, and these people were out celebrating a victory for humanity. You couldn't imagine my anger, especially because so many fantastic people were losing their jobs in a such a terrible market.

Su said...

@JE: Oops, we must have posted at the same time earlier! I wasn't ignoring you, promise! I'm totally with you on the "no need to be a jerk" thing.

@Charlie: Ugh. That's the sort of thing that makes me want to be the person who acts like a jerk just to tell them all where they can go. :(

Pam Torres said...

I tend to be an ardent lurker. If I take the time to comment it is usually on a blog that has made me think in a new way, laugh or stretched my mind. I too am easily depressed when I read comments that dwindle into political dwabling. (new word, I like it) I think I am more interested in what people do then what they think someone else should do.

Su said...

Well said, Pam!

Angela Felsted said...

It's so easy to stir things up on the internet. No pun intended with the free coffee and all.

I think it's because we don't need to look each other in the eyes.

Su said...

It was a good pun, intended or not! Also, very true.