I’m a millennial. I grew up on the internet and now I spend my days writing stories that will end up on the internet. As a member of the generation that has grown up with the internet I know how helpful of a tool it can be. The internet is a great resource for everything from making dinner to figuring out the political situation in whatever European country you might have an interest in today. It allows people of all generations and distance to talk and communicate. It allows for families to reach out to loved ones across all kinds of borders. The internet is really a great place. Unfortunately, like all good things, there is a bad side to the internet: comment sections.
Anyone who’s been on the internet for the past few months has seen the craziness that exists in internet comment sections. You would expect comment sections to get a little crazy, especially with all of the craziness going on in the political world.
I don’t know how discussions were held between people before the internet, I wasn’t alive, but I swear to God they weren’t as bad as they are now. It’s like with the ability to comment about anything, people throw all rules of respect out the window. Case in point, back in July, “Dr. Who” announced the next doctor would be played by the amazing actress Jodi Whittaker.
For the first time in the history of the show, there would be a female doctor. For those who don’t know, the Doctor is a shape-shifting, time traveling alien from a race that doesn’t even exist in the show anymore. The internet could handle the Doctor was a crazy alien, but broke down when it learned it would be a woman. Dorkly summed up the reactions pretty well with the headline “The New Doctor Who Is a Woman and Pissboys Are Melting Down,” but what angered me more was the way that people were commenting (http://www.dorkly.com/post/84662/the-new-doctor-who-is-a-woman-and-pissboys-are-melting-down). People were getting angry for the most irrational reasons and basically calling for the end of the show.
Crazy comment sections hit a little closer to home last week when I wrote about the term “illegal alien” (http://dailycampus.com/stories/2017/9/5/its-time-to-unpack-the-phrase-illegal-alien). I didn’t expect to get a calm response. After all, immigration is currently a very divisive topic and people have very strong opinions on it. With that being said, I didn’t expect the response I did. People were telling me to go back to my own country. People called me scum and said they hoped I would be shipped out or “removed” from this country. Some of them even questioned my ability as a college a student. And then of course, there was Scott Wilson who was happy to question where I was from by saying:
“Where are you from? Because you are clearly not an American. In fact, you are what is known as a domestic enemy. And it is my fervent hope and prayer that someday soon you are properly treated as one.”
Did you hear that? Because I expressed an opinion that was different from Mr. Wilson’s, I’m a domestic enemy. Exciting times we live in.
I believe in the need and importance of debate. Debate allows people with different ideas to communicate their beliefs and maybe even convert someone who doesn’t agree with them. That being said, if someone doesn’t agree with them there is no reason to start spewing hate. 90 percent of people commenting on these stories lack the stones to say something so atrocious in public. Most of them also probably know how ridiculous what they are saying is yet, because they can hide behind their computer screens, they think it’s okay. It’s not.
When I first started in journalism, I was told to never read the comments. But, as a journalist, I also like to see what people think of the work that we are doing. That’s an impossible task to do when 99 percent of comments are bashing the work being done, calling things “#FAKENEWS” and directly attacking the reporters.
Want the so-called “fake news” to improve? Maybe stop being a dick in the comments and actually give a real critique and start a real discussion. Journalists, and the internet, will thank you.
Amar Batra is a senior staff photographer and weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets at @amar_batra19.