It seems like once a week I’m linking to Joe Posnanski’s blog. Believe me, I’m tempted to do so more often. In fact, I’m surprised that someone hasn’t already set up a blog where all they do is use Joe’s posts as a jumping-off point for their own writing.
His latest effort, at its surface a commentary on what happened to reporter Tara Sullivan at the Master’s but evolves into a discussion on Internet commentary, is typically brilliant. Go read it. It’s great.
This line stuck out for me:
I almost never read the comments below stories anywhere else because they can depress me to the point where I don’t want to leave the house.
This is true for me as well. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good debate or want to get a sense of how readers feel about a story/post. It’s that it is rare when a comment thread doesn’t devolve into a pointless shouting match. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is – politics, celebrity, sports, comparing smart phones, how to brew coffee, the best breed of dog to buy – sooner or later someone will take offense to another’s opinion, and from there it’s on.
It shouldn’t bug me. I feel like I’m smart enough to understand that many comments are bullshit, people just looking to get a rise out of others. Others are not based in reality and not worth getting upset over. But I can’t help it. I tend to react to things I feel strongly about emotionally and before I know it, I’m shaking my head, can feel my blood pressure rising, and the argument gets stuck in my head the rest of the day.
Because of this I’ve almost completely removed political websites from my regular reading. It doesn’t matter whether a site/post fits my point-of-view or opposes it. I have a hard time dealing with the pure hate that seems to be a required part of political discourse these days. When it comes to sports, music, etc., I just follow Joe’s lead and skip the comments.
I don’t have a problem with people arguing their perspective vociferously. That’s the cornerstone of our society. I do have a problem with all the hatred and intolerance of others that we feel obligated to infuse our arguments with. It is possible to argue opposing viewpoints robustly without questioning your opponent’s intelligence, patriotism, morality, parenting, etc.
For me, it’s easier to ignore comments completely than attempt to wade through them in hopes of finding some nuggets of honest, open debate.