Blogs are weird. I don’t know what I find weirder about them. That people write them. Or that there is, right now, a generation growing up who won’t find them weird at all. To them, the notion of broadcasting your thoughts across the internet where anyone can (and hopefully will) read them will be perfectly normal. I don’t know if it will be a good thing or a bad thing. Probably both, because that’s how humans work.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this post, I’m going to go ahead and plug Transformers: Fall of Cyberton. It’s basically three games: a single player campaign, a multiplayer versus mode, and a cooperative four against the horde mode. Each game is pretty damn fun, and I am enjoying the hell out of it. I even bought the DLC Dinobot skins to use in multiplayer, and while it might sound silly to pay money for a completely superficial addition, there is something very awesome about being a robotic T-rex who shoots cannon shells out of his mouth and stomps across the battlefield.
If this does not excite you, I have a hard time believing you’re a fan of mine. But maybe you like my books despite the mutant dinosaurs and killer moon monsters. I certainly won’t complain if that’s true.
Onto the real topic of this blog.
Haters gonna hate.
I used to find that phrase absurd and confusing. I wasn’t quite sure what a hater was, but, I figured, by definition, they must hate things. Then I started looking around on the internet, and it suddenly became crystal clear. There are people, loads of them, who are full of nothing but rage, bile, and critcism. And the internet is where they live to express themselves.
You only need to read the comments section on any average Youtube video or play an online game for an hour or two. Inevitably, someone will emerge who seems to want nothing more than to be angry and share that anger with the world. I’m not talking about legitimate rage, sincere criticism. Not every negative comment on Amazon.com is the result of someone just wanting to be a jerk. Not every criticism of our politicians is automatically a biased attack. There are plenty of reasons to voice negative opinions and thoughts, and just because a comment isn’t full of glowing positivity, it doesn’t make it worthless or the product of mere rage.
I recently posted a few vague political posts and got a lot of feedback, both negative and positive. None of it was what I would consider uncalled for. None of it was just there to be nasty.
But haters are out there, and while I haven’t experienced many on this site (in fact, I’ve only ever rejected one non-spam comment and even that was less about criticism and more about missing the point of the original post), those folks are out there in surprising numbers.
They’re the folks who feel the need to pepper their online chat with profanity. They love to call others stupid. They love to bring everyone down.
If there’s an amateur Youtube video, they’ll be there to point out that it doesn’t look like a million dollar movie.
If you’re playing an online MMO, they’re the ones who are sure to tell you how much you suck.
If you share some thoughts about your life, they’ll let you know your life is meaningless and you’re a loser.
Haters is really the only word that fits. People who simply live to be mad. Certainly, we all have our bad days, our unpleasant moments. But it takes a special kind of rage to bother posting a negative comment for its own sake. This isn’t just someone walking by, firing off an unpleasant comment, and carrying on. No, these are folks who sit down, type out their nasty messages, and do so with delightful enthusiasm.
We are all capable of being this person. But it takes a lot of effort to post negativity on the internet when you could just as easily shut up. And yelling at a random group of people on an MMO is akin to jumping into the middle of a bunch of people and berating them all simply for existing. This is more than simple unpleasantness. This is anger, aimed at no one and everyone.
It’s nothing new. These people have always been with us. But for me, their ability to be found anywhere on the internet shows just how prevalent they are. It shows what happens when people of rage are given anonymity. And it ain’t pretty.
There’s probably no way to fix this problem other than to encourage polite and thoughtful discourse. But, of course, that’s the hater trap. If you try to engage this sort of person in a civil discussion, it is bound to get ugly fast. In short order, we can become haters ourselves. That’s the insidious nature of this affliction. Unreasonable people do not become more reasonable around reasonable people. More often than not, the opposite is true. So a hands off approach is often best.
But this leaves the ragers, the angered, the trolls free run of things. With luck, they end up isolated and alone, drowning in their own venom. It rarely works that way. Instead, they’re more likely to drive away all interesting discussion in favor of personal attacks, declarations of superiority, and (my personal favorite) generic ethnic, sexual slurs. It sucks, but damned if I can figure a way around it other than suggesting we should demand better of ourselves.
I’ve been playing League of Legends lately, and one of the things I love about the game is that it has a player based tribunal system that handles punishing reported players. It’s not a perfect system, but if a player is too belligerent they can end up getting banned. And it’s through the judgment of other players. By creating a community, the hope is that haters will be kept in check. It isn’t a perfect system, and I sincerely doubt any system can keep these things under control. But they can keep them from raging to extremely excessive levels.
We should expect nothing less from each other. And if you wouldn’t berate me and scream obscenities in my face in real life, you probably shouldn’t do it on the internet either. Not that I expect any haters to understand this. Because, as the saying goes, haters gonna hate. It’s their nature.
It’s up to the rest of us to stop them.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,