Quit Being Indignant About Shit You Read On the Internet

Quit Being Indignant About Shit You Read On the Internet

Okay, so here’s a basic fact about the Internet: everything is on it. Everything. If there is anything offensive or uninformed or glib that can possibly be communicated in digital form, it’s on the Internet.

Well, not actually…but it’s safe to assume that when you come across something online that offends you, you shouldn’t be surprised it’s there. I know, that’s easier said than done. In general, you restrict your Internet consumption to the tweets and posts of friends and trusted media sources, so when something you disagree with intrudes upon your consciousness, it’s like a party crasher and it’s extremely tempting to respond to it with shocked indignation. You might well reblog or link to it for that reason.

A lot of bloggers, obviously, know that—and they pander to it by posting deliberately shocking and provocative things that they know you’ll reblog and retweet and post because they just so offend you that you can’t help sharing them. In other words, they get mad hate-hitz, and they happily lap them up.

I won’t pretend I’m completely above this. I once wrote a post hating on co-ops—a post that I deliberately did not research, lest I learn positive things about co-ops that would complicate my self-assigned task of writing a post hating on co-ops. I wanted the hate-hitz, sure, and also I just wanted to use my lunch break to let off steam with a rant instead of a research paper. People do this, and they also post opinions that they genuinely believe to be correct and well-informed, and that you’re going to violently disagree with.

By all means, respond to that shit. I write response posts all the time, though probably the most effective and dignified way to counter disagreeable viewpoints is to keep communicating your own as frequently and effectively as possible. Roger Ebert says that the best way to criticize a movie is to make a better movie, and the same principle applies online.

Just don’t be surprised when you run across things you disagree with, even from sources you consider reputable. Everybody’s throwing it all out there right now, hoping that somebody will somehow engage with it—even if “it” is stupid or offensive. This post is as much directed at myself as at anyone else, so I’m looking in the mirror here when I say: respond to online stupidity by doing something non-stupid. Make the Internet world a better place. Don’t feed the hate monster with your mad mad mad mad mad hitz.

Jay Gabler

Photo by Matt Mets (Creative Commons)