On Comments

I wrote yesterday that playing flash games is more fun than complaining, but every now and then one feels the need to wallow in the keyboard poundings of the intellectually and rhetorically bankrupt, if only to reassure oneself of one’s general superiority. Fortunately, providing a platform for the intelctually and rhetorically bankrupt is one of the things that the Internet does particularly well, and News24 can usually be relied on to elevate this platform higher than most. 

In fact, credit must be given to News24’s editorial team for the skill with which they turn barely-coherent user-generated content into clicks, simply by affording it pride of place on the front page of what is ostensibly a news portal. Anything touching on race or religion is guaranteed to get people worked up enough to hit the “add comment” button and it is almost equally guarenteed that either (or both) of these topics will regular feature in News24’s MyNews24 section.

So it was with today’s pick, entitled “Have Respect for Atheists Too”, the mere title of which would be enough to get certain segments of the population hot under the collar. To summarise, the post is basically a response an article detailing a complaint about a religious billboard that the complainant and the author feel is offensive toward non-believers. I’m not going to get into the particulars of the debate, although I do feel that the billboard in question should be protected under laws guaranteeing freedom of speech,  but a quick scroll through the lengthy comment section will offer plenty of fodder for self-righteous indignation, no matter which side of the fence you fall on.

Personally, I feel like I’ve evolved far beyond debating the intangibles of one set of beliefs against another (one of the benefits of believing in evolution is that you get to benefit from it), so my first thought, on scrolling through the comment section, was “I wish I could get as many comments as that”. However, upon further reading, the number of comments that actually made a meaningful contribution to what should have been an important discussion about freedom of expression were probably less than 1% of the 214 posted.

So then, comments on websites: good for getting worked up, no so good at fostering reasonable debate. But really, what I’m trying to say is this: Don’t comment on my blog. See if I care. I’ll be too busy playing flash games anyway.

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