These days, anytime you read something in the news, you can’t just accept it. You have to play the “Is this for real, or is this The Onion?” game, because often times, the truth is crazier than anything people could make up.
So when I read a headline in Google Reader that Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius was annoyed at “gutless trolls” hassling the subject of one of his columns, I assumed that this was some sort of a joke. We all know that the SFgate.com comment sections are a foul mouthed, angry, ill-informed lot. However, this gang of online anony-thugs are also the only reason the site gets the level of traffic that it currently generates.
Now, Mr. Nevius was right on the money regarding these creeps who hide behind anonymity and hurl insults and epithets at the Gate, and then move on to hate mail to the subjects of his columns. The fact such people are such chickenshits they can’t sign their name says a lot. He’s also not the first to suggest the Gate’s commenters are a pack of lunatics.
That said, without these crazies, the Gate would not have nearly the traffic it has now. So, ironically, Mr. Nevius and the Chronicle are able to be online due to the actions of these nuts. Truly, an “is it real or is it the Onion?” moment.
PS: Here’s another thing I’ve observed…there are some people out there who apparently cannot stand the idea that every other human being on the planet does not agree with them lock-step, and are often the most ferocious commenters, spending their day commenting over and over, attacking people etc. I have yet to see any writer, upon reading said comments, say “Oh my God, I was wrong, I shall change my opinions 100% immediately to comply with some bitter retiree in Arizona who disagreed with me! Oh the shame of my crazy opinions!”
They do the same with other commenters. I’ve been online far longer than I care to admit, and I have yet to see under any circumstances “commenting” changing minds or having much of an impact. The fact that some people have so much time during business hours to attack others online makes me wonder what kind of a job they have (if any) that allows them so much time to invest in something that’s interesting, but doesn’t impact the world at large.
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