The Obnoxiousness Of Online Comments


It doesn’t matter where they come from or where you read them, online comments seem to have one overriding common characteristic: obnoxiousness. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Facebook, You Tube, or newspaper websites, online comments coming from people I’ve never met, and thankfully never will, excel by their virtuosity in handling the written word.

What is it that makes those who insult others better than those they insult? I am more convinced than ever that these people are what they are because of the anonymity they gain from being behind a computer screen. The nature of the subject also has an influence, of course. I’ve learned over the last few years that three topics are to be avoided at all costs if you don’t want to be battered and rammed on the internet. The topics are Brexit, global warming, and religion.

If you think about it, Brexit, global warming and religion all share things in common. They refer to abstract concepts, concepts that cannot be fully felt or quantified in a rational manner. This leads to schools of thought that rapidly turn into temples of intolerance. Once this happens, there is no room for arguments, just insults.

I’ve become immune to what people think about Brexit. I just have to look at what’s happening to the UK to realise that the EU is a needle in a UK haystack, that gets stuck in everybody’s foot. Some are intent on finding it. Of course, having dual nationality and a French passport does help me weather my disappointment in a vote that I still think was wrong.

Religion leaves me without emotions, apart from when people are hurt by it. You can believe what you want to, just leave me the freedom of not joining you at Sunday mass. I have my own religion – philosophy: salvation without God. You may think that one reflects the truth better than the other, but in keeping to the true nature of this post, I couldn’t possibly comment.

Which leaves me with global warming. And there, it does hurt and doesn’t leave me cold – if you’ll forgive the intentional pun. I feel weakened by what is happening, and by those who deny. Could they really hold the absolute truth concerning what is happening to our planet? Could they be right in classifying me as a nonsensical alarmist, incapable of analysing and interpreting data, and telling me to grow up and act like an responsible adult?

As forest fires rage, flood waters swamp vast areas in far-away countries that aren’t suffering from endless drought, and the trees in my street slowly show their autumnal colours, I cannot but question my worry about what is happening, my overreaction to a phenomenon that cannot be true because of those who refute those who say it is. I am told to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. I must be thankful that I have taken my summer holidays when the weather is at its best, and that I’m not over eighty.

Comments have ceased to be comments. They have turned into acrid one-liners so acidic that they will burn through every layer in your skin, if you happen to disagree.

And to all those who disagree with my belief in, and concerns about, global warming, the following is a comment: enjoy breakfast on the lawn whose grass is no longer green but yellow, and let me know how you’re getting on when the water has run out.