As I mentioned before, I theoretically study and am supposed to be becoming an expert in (…) the social languages groups use to communicate online. But I’m going to be perfectly honest with you: I do not understand youtube.
One of my projects right now is to compile a list of comments from all the video stories that are fitting to be read of Jimmy Kimmel “Mean Tweets” style. Basically, I need people to say a bunch of simple, idiotic things about the speaker’s face or how they look like a horse or something just so base and mean that it makes reasonable people laugh because why would anyway ever say anything like that?
Instead, I am finding comments that shock me, but not so much in a baseless, funny kind of way
People keep saying shit about “male at a cellular level…” wtf does that even mean. That’s not even words. They seem to believe that if one were to take a blood sample of a transitioned Trans* person, the cells in the blood would reveal that person’s “true” gender–aka the one assigned at birth. Because God made it that way. For us humans to be able to stare into the depths of each others blood and determine as a matter of course, oh yes the person this blood came from was definitely a man! Please. Let’s smear your blood together with that of a trans* man and let’s see how easily you can tell the difference, even with technology (I’m no scientist, but there’s probably a reason there’s such a thing as “contaminated evidence.” Yeah DNA has sex from what I know from cop dramas but still come on just no.)
Why are people so angry all the time?
Why do they feel the need to tear apart a person’s identity using some twisted logic about their cells? The comment is the comment, in the words of South Park–the comment is the community and the audience, how you know what people enjoy, how to tailor the content, and most importantly it is the legacy of humanity–the pencil scratching on a desk that says “I am here.”
I believe firmly in an experiential world, in which people are not just consumers but cocreators, where the impact of the product on the receiver is the true creation, the shared experience is the most important part of media, or otherwise, consumption. Yet what kind of world are we creating with youtube comments? Or facebook ignorance? If the lived experience is the most important aspect of interaction, then what kind of experience is telling a gay black man, who is speaking from the heart about his experiences with racism in the LGBT dating scene, that he should just give up and date white chicks because they just love black men?
One solution is to say that these people are just internet trolls.
But most of the time the most bizarre comments come from those who really believe what they are saying, who are dedicated to these outlandish-seeming convictions. To intentionally stir up is one thing, this is a (though disputable) added aspect of experience creation–ostensibly, an effort to create an environment in which everyone is questioning everything, driven by their indignation, perhaps led to challenge their beliefs by the foolishness of the situation. But people who really believe the things they are saying, things that to reasonable people seem inane, what of their experience? It isn’t any less real. Nor any less valid. But it is dumb. So what does that mean? You can try to educate them, but this just turns into another form of flame war, that will likely only be fed by those who love to create them in the first place. Moreover, where does the right even come from to “educate” other commenters? Can someone’s opinion be wrong?
Anti-vaxxers, racists (both blatant and accidental), homophobes, truthers…Science, common sense, logic, human decency might rule these people just fundamentally wrong. But they believe themselves. Some of the worst offenders don’t even realize or consider themselves to be wrong, especially when it comes to racism and sexism. As one guy wrote, “Just because my grindr profile says ‘No Blacks or Latinos’ doesn’t make me racist.”
How do you study, respect, and appreciate open community dialog when it seems to have no respect for itself?