Not all Internet commenters are assholes, of course. But many of them are. A majority? Who’s to say, really? But, yes, probably, a majority of Internet commenters are assholes. Have you ever looked at the comments on a NY Post story about Obama? Don’t! Unless you have an appetite for the most vile, racist filth imaginable. And we’re not even going to delve into the sociopaths over at YouTube. They make me lose whatever limited faith I have left in humanity. But up until recently, the dickheadedness of commenters was just something anecdotally known, it had never been proven. Now a study shows that commenters are actual, verifiable assholes. It’s nice when science aligns with exactly what I’ve always thought to be true.
The Wall Street Journal reported on a study that was done by researchers at Columbia University and the University of PIttsburgh which was designed to see why we’re so mean to each other when we talk online. Sherry Turkle, a psychologist and professor at MIT, noted that “we’re less inhibited online because we don’t have to see the reaction of the person we’re addressing…because it’s harder to see and focus on what we have in common, we tend to dehumanize each other.” Additionally, the study demonstrated that people who spend more time on Facebook and engage through Facebook commenting instead of through, you know, face-to-face interactions are “more likely to engage in binge eating and to have a greater body mass index, as well as to have more credit-card debt and a lower credit score.” The researchers also found that “people who spent more time on Facebook were more likely to give up on difficult tasks more quickly.”
So, basically, what the study demonstrates is that people who spend a lot of time Internet commenting are dumb quitters who are also probably poor and have shitty eating habits. Wow, that’s way harsh! That’s way worse than anything I would have said. Even though I have been called a racist hipster who should consider another occupation on multiple occasions! I mean, not usually by the same commenter, but STILL.
Anyway, in honor of this study, I decided to ask some of our editorial staff here about the worst comments that they’ve ever received. And some of them were pretty bad! Stop being such dicks, people!