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« Carnaval Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie Style | Main | Scotland to France on the Eurostar -- Part Deux »

My new bad habit (or) Internet Comments: It's like junior high with anonymity

I have a new - and very bad - habit. I've started reading comments. Not comments like the one's on our blog, which are funny and smart and and supportive and very worth reading. I've started reading the comments on news pieces. Have you read any of these? Don't, it's a bad idea.

Today as I was checking my email, a news story popped up about Colin Carson, a 13 year-old prodigy, who is having issues with his college concerning his age and his ability to travel to South Africa for course work. I read the article, which was interesting, in a mom-with-a-kid-about-that-age kind of way. Then I started reading the comments. It's so... so... icky out there on the interweb in comment world! Some people were laughing about what a geek the kid was, with his red hair and lanky frame. (I think he's kinda cute.) Many people, none of whom had actually met him, went on about how he had no social skills, and how his overbearing mother should just let him go back to jr high. What kept hitting me over and over again were two things:

1. The absolute conviction that there is only one way to experience adolescence. That way involves dates and prom and popularity and BFF's. 

2. The alarming number of people who tried to belittle this kid's intellect. Why? One guy said, of this boy he's never met that, "he probably just has a terrific memory, he's probably not even all that smart."

Now - I'm sharp - but I'm no prodigy. In fact, I had to spell check prodigy. In my adolescence I was not popular, didn't have dates, and would never have called my friends BFF's, because even then that phrase would have made me cringe. So maybe I'm not the best person to try and understand the psychology of a guy who calls himself The Heartbreak Kid, and whose other comments on other articles include such gems as:

  • Old people always do that crap.
  • Women just love to see bruises and gossip, and think the worst. It's in their nature.
  • That kid just needs a beatdown, the thing that sucks is his parents aren't one to give it. 

Yes. I searched the guy's other comments. See - this is just not good for me!

The thing is this: It's so easy to sit at your computer and diss the world and everything in it. It's so much harder to get up, go out, and be of use. I think it's time we all did just that. Really - every single one of us, in what ever way we can. Except The Heartbreak Kid. He should just stay put. Someone order him a pizza. 

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Reader Comments (8)

Ah, yes. I have made this mistake exactly once. It is very very ugly. But I had to carry on and read them to the end because I just couldn't believe the ignorance in the world. The article was Americans Adopting HIV Positive Kids from Ethiopia. Now I know people don't bother to educate themselves about HIV, but if they know nothing about it, why would they leave comments stating loads of false rumor opinions and claim them as factual? A bigger problem (I think) is that there are so many people out there in internet-land that get their information from these idiots. So now I NEVER read the comments on articles because I find it all much too infuriating.

Mar 27, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterBethany

Lama too ... used to be very interested in the opinions of others. Now, he finds it difficult to refrain from commenting on the comments. So now, Lama simply smirks at the mouth breathing masses in the same way that they make their comments ... anonymously.

Gunga Gulunga,

Mar 27, 2010 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterYo Lama

Icky, icky, sticky! I read some comments today about an article on a liberal newsletter - I thought I would be safe - ooooh, aahh, nope. I notice very few people can comment on anything without resorting to name-calling. It is a practice I was taught demonstrates that the name caller had run out of ideas worth sharing. Physical violence occurs when they finally run out of names.
Wish I had a nice neat conclusion for this topic, but I don't think there is one.

Mar 27, 2010 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Yep....I did it too. Read about Colin and read comments. I was so horrified I commented 'at length' by including an article on prodigies and how the worst thing anyone could do to them was 'cage them' by insisting they remain with peers. I know people with minds like the ones you mentioned don't read other positive remarks [why should they, they know everything already] but I was driven.

The absolutely funny thing is [and there is a funny thing in all this] is that I was thinking about you and your kids and this wonderful adventure you're giving them as I was reading the nonsense....and thinking these idiots commenting about Colin
'not fitting' into 'ordinary teen society' would never, ever in a million years appreciate the treasure of life your kids are receiving and that Colin's mom is allowing him to experience.

I think I've given up reading 'comments' on interenet news .....except on blogs I admire and National Public Radio where mostly people actually think and reason.
Thanks for's fun to follow your adventures!

Mar 27, 2010 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRonit

I've had the same thoughts. When I was reading comments I would become frustrated and discouraged at the ignorance in the world for the rest of the day. It's crazy to me that people think their opinions are so important, and that they are an authority on whatever subject they have opinions.

In MY opinion (!) it would be far better to not have a teenager that fits into "ordinary teenage society."

Mar 28, 2010 at 1:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Hey, great comments! I actually had several people tell me that I was crazy picking up everything and taking my family (including my 3yo son) to South Africa. I'm sure you got some of the same comments from some people before your big trip. But, I'm not your typical American, so I didn't think twice about moving to a different world. Anyway, I delete all the negative comments from my blog because they just don't belong there-especially from people who don't even know me!

Mar 28, 2010 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnita

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
-Abraham Lincoln

Even though I read your blog consistently, you'll notice that I'm silent much of the time. ;-)

Mar 28, 2010 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRosalind

no comment.

Mar 28, 2010 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered Commentereric Gotthelf

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