Internet Culture (Grievances and Gotchas)

Yesterday, when I was sharing some thoughts on the nature of WordPress Menus and The Customizer I ended up on a tangential series of thoughts on my opinion and perspective on the nature of the social Internet.

Then I cut it if for no other reason that it was off topic.

Anyway, the original content included my thoughts on how I view reactions that we so often see on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Hacker News, Reddit, Imgur, and basically any website that accepts any comments of any type.

To be clear, not all sites are the same and the communities that are around these sites are a little different than others. It’d be wrong of me to generalize all of them into a single category and, honestly, some of them are incredibly welcoming despite many of the ideological and cultural differences that we have.

However (because there’s always a ‘however’, right?).

Online Communities

Though there are some commonalities that exist to some degree, it appears that all online communities seem to exhibit some type of behavior like this:

We’re really good at airing our grievances, and we’re really good at doing so in short, biting ways at the expense of someone else.

And I know that for some people, this doesn’t matter. After all, there’s a case to be made that this is the nature of the human race, but is that a reason that we shouldn’t strive for something better?

I mean, at least on some level?

Anyway, so here’s the short bit of content that I ended up cutting from yesterday’s post. Maybe it’ll resonate with someone else; maybe it’ll sound like a lot of nonsense.

Whatever the case, it’s something that’s slightly out of touch with what I normally write, but something I felt like publishing anyway.

On Grievances and Gotchas

One of my personal grievances with Internet culture (that I’ve come to accept, for whatever it’s worth) – more specifically, with social networking – is that it’s developed this culture of who can write the most biting, most frustrated, most attempt-to-be-clever at the expense of someone else or something else in the quickest amount of time and in the shortest amount of characters.

“How quickly can I come up with a witty comment that’s akin to throwing a dart at a target?”

It’s not like we set out to share any type of thoughtful discussion (not that some of these mediums are conducive to that anyway). Instead, it’s as if many of us are always on the defense, or if we’re always looking for a fight. Furthermore, we end up subtweeting or talking via biting, offensive comments that are aimed directly at other human beings who I sincerely doubt we’d address the same way in person.

If we’re going to do that, why not just directly address them as we would if we were face to face?

I mean, some do – for sure (and respect for that!) – but I’ve also seen first hand some people talk about certain people in way one in one capacity or in one medium and then treat them in a completely different way face-to-face.

Lame. If you’re going to disagree or hold different opinions, cool, but at least be consistent about it.

Online, we’ve created this “gotcha” culture (to coin a phrase a friend has recently used) where the goal seems to be who can be simultaneously the first, the rudest, and most clever when it comes to sharing opinions on something that with which we disagree and, in some cases, lambast them incessantly.

It’s so counterproductive, it’s so unoriginal, and it’s sad state of affairs. And though I consider myself a pessimist, I think I’m being more of a realist when I say that I don’t think this is going to change.

At all.

It may even get worse or, at best, it may just stay the same. Who knows, but I doubt that it will actually get better.

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