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May 22, 2012

Internet Hate and Why It's So Prominent

On my way home from work today, I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts, the Lasertime show put on by a bunch of the guys who used to do Talk Radar. (For those of my fans who don't read my media/pop culture posts, please keep reading. I only use some of those for reference points in order to make a larger point)

The subject of this particular episode isn't important, but as usual they all went off on tangents anyway, and one of them was on the incessant need for some people on the Internet to hate things. Especially popular things. And to hold onto this hate beyond any sense of rationality.

It really is a phenomenon that I have seen from time to time, though thankfully not too much recently. The reason for that is more where I hang out than because it's quieting down. Because it's certainly not doing that.

I feel your pain, Benny
You find this a lot in relation to various pop culture things like movies, games, books, television, and things like that. People have this irrational need to get into long, pointless arguments about things that really don't matter in the grand scheme of things. Who would win in a fight: Galactus or Darkseid? Did Han Solo really shoot first when he killed Greedo, or is Lucas lame for making that change? Which Star Wars movie is the worst one? Just how many women out there would love to date me if I wasn't already taken? (Believe me, those arguments are legion and have gone on for fourteen years or so. It's also been responsible for a catfight or two)

I've graduated beyond these for the most part, and I've never taken part in them. Now I read (mostly) civilized debates on policy and stuff like that. I still occasionally check out game fora and the like, and you've never seen Internet hate until you've seen the comments in a post about Activision's Call of Duty franchise. The anti-Activision rants can reach legendary proportions.

So why do people on the Internet hate so much?

I think a large part of it is the anonymity that the Internet offers. On most fora that I visit, you can put whatever you want into the profile page. You don't have to use your real name. You can just go by "hist" like I do (well, not exactly like I do, or I may sue your ass off...or the system software just won't allow duplicate accounts. One of the two). You don't have to go by Dave Roy. You don't have to say anything about yourself.

Ok, some things I can go along with

So when Craigslistfan36533 starts ripping on those fans of Twilight or Star Trek or whatever, he can do so with complete confidence that nobody will ever come to his house and beat his face in. He can go to a Trek forum and say anything he wants. He would be different from a troll (as I described in a previous post) because he's not going there just to get a reaction. He honestly believes that whatever he's discussing sucked. He honestly can't believe that somebody likes it.

He just likes to get the hate on and not let it go.

Which brings us to another symptom of this phenomenon. The irresistible attraction to commenting (and hating) on something that really isn't aimed at you in the first place.

Chris Antista on this episode talked about this, and it resonated with me too, partially because I'm guilty of some aspects of this. He mentioned the backlash against things like Twilight (a book series that is obviously not aimed at 30-year-old men) and, more pertinent to me, Justin Bieber. I admit, I have made my share of "Bieber is the sign of doom!" jokes, but they're mostly jokes. I certainly don't hate the kid, and I would never go to a site devoted to him and trash him.

But he is an easy target, and maybe I should lay off those a little bit. I promise I've made my last Bieber joke on this blog.

May the worst demon from Hell strike me down if that is not so.

Ok, that was my last one.

C'mon. Breaking an addiction is hard!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Internet hate.

One last aspect of Internet hate that I just find really odd, and I believe either Chris or Brett Elston also mentioned this on the podcast is the fact that arguments on the Internet seem to be never-ending.

If you and your buddies are at a bar, having some beers, and you get into a discussion about which ship would kick ass in a fight, the Enterprise or the Millenium Falcon, you'll debate it for a bit, get a bit drunker, start ogling the ladies at the end of the bar, and the argument will be quickly forgotten.

Not so on the Internet (maybe that's because there are no ladies at the end of the Internet bar?). That argument will go on for days and days. It may die down for a brief while, but somebody will always resurrect it. It may be an unsuspecting third party who, by saying something totally innocent, will step in it and look at his shoe like it's covered in dog shit. But something will happen. And the argument starts all over again.

Can this phenomenon be explained? I honestly don't know, because it completely mystifies me.

Just like most Internet fan-hate does.

Which is probably why it's a good thing I'm not a practitioner of it, isn't it?

Have you seen this sort of thing around before in the Internet environments you frequent? Or even where you don't frequent?

Inquiring minds want to know.


  1. This stuff leaves me not only mystified, but saddened and occasionally repulsed. It falls into the "Do you not have anything better to do with your time?" category. Think of it - all that energy being poured into hate, sarcasm, mean-hearted humor and at worst, truly disturbing encouragement of violence. Not something I will ever do, nor something I want even on the periphery of my life. It's toxic, plain and simple. My goal is happiness and good health, so I'm not living in those worlds or embracing any of those mindsets.

    Yes, I'm PollyAnna'ing here, but I'm being honest! I just do not get this mentality. Instead of behaving in this negative fashion, do something constructive, people! Do a good deed. SMILE at someone. Plant a tree. Mow a neighbor's yard. Volunteer somewhere. I realize I'm probably talking to a stone cold and deaf audience, of course, as those people won't resonate any better with my energy than I do with theirs. Ahh, well. To each his/her own. My "own" is embracing happy. Feel free to debate it if you like - I'll be in a field, picking flowers or some other annoying positive activity! ;o)

    - Dawnie

  2. Some of my humour is sarcastic, Dawnie! You'd rob me of some of my best stuff. :)

    But I do wish more people had your outlook on the world.

    I will definitely be joining you in that field picking flowers.


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