One part of my job is reviewing comments from readers.
I read survey comments. I read Facebook comments. I read comments people write post on articles.
There is no shortage of people sharing their point of view.
I’ve been reading comments as part of my job for about six years now.
Although I haven’t crunched the numbers, I am convinced that the amount of negative feedback has greatly increased over the last few years.
Three weeks ago someone wrote a comment in one of my surveys that the author should be fired because he/she was an ‘idiot.’ What was my crime? I had one typo on a thirty question survey.
A few months ago, I had to go through over 15,000 comments from a massive survey. The comments included insults that called people names like ‘facists,’ ‘communists,’ ‘fucktards,’ and ‘retards.’ One person said we needed to kill ourselves.
After two solid days of reading comments I was utterly destroyed from the negativity. I don’t know of a single person that wouldn’t have some emotional reaction after two days of such pessimism.
Since the internet began, we have experienced the approach of infinity on a number of things. The amount of data is infinite. The amount of new knowledge is infinite. With the approach of infinity, there is no shortage of people reacting to the things they read online.
With all of the noise, what voice do you listen to? What voice reaches out above the rest?
I am guessing that people leave mean or cruel comments because they simply want their point of view to be heard.
I get that. I understand that we all want to believe that our opinions and viewpoints are valid and valuable.
In the sea of comments, I think people forget that their voice is being heard by someone.
Many times, the person hearing that loud (and sometimes cruel) voice is someone like me.
Who am I?
I am a 29 year old, married, white woman who lives in Jackson, Michigan. I love watching television. I teach Sunday school to little kids. I am a daughter, an aunt, a sister, and a friend. I like playing board games with my friends, and trying new beer and wine. I am a person. I have feelings and thoughts and reactions. If you call me a ‘bitch’ that hurts my feelings. When you tell me I am an ‘idiot’ for having one typo that makes me feel bad. When you tell me to ‘go kill myself’ that hurts my heart.
In my entire life, I have never had a complete stranger walk up to me on the street and yell obscenities or say cruel comments. If you would not yell at a stranger on the street, then why is it okay to do it online? Is it because there is some anonymity? What is it about cutting someone down builds you up? If you feel the need to cut someone down, what are missing in your life?
Swimming through the sea of information and stories, I think it is easy to forget that there are people watching and reading. I am one of those people. And I am tired. I am tired of being yelled at, called names and insulted for the most trivial things.
Are some people actually idiots? Yes. Are some people doing incredibly stupid things? Yes.
But I bet you are too. I know I do stupid things all the time.
Would you want a team of people yelling obscenities at you the next time you mess up?
I know I wouldn’t. So why are you doing it? And can you please stop a little bit?