I recognize that people come in different shapes, sizes, and intellectual abilities. Some people are articulate writers, while others struggle. Some people are naturals when it comes to spelling, but others have a really tough time. For the most part, though, we all go about our daily lives without a difference. The person in front of me in the supermarket checkout line might have their Master’s degree, or maybe they never finished high school. But when they’re paying for their toothpaste, the difference isn’t apparent. And I would wager that, even in, say, leaving a comment on Youtube, the difference isn’t really apparent. The person with the Master’s probably has better writing skills, but, in putting together a couple sentences in replying to a music video, it’s not really apparent. You’re not going to write a dissertation or worry about what a gerund is on Youtube.
Internet comments bring all sorts of people out of the woodwork, though, some of them with really loony beliefs. Read the comments on any news story remotely relevant to politics, for example, and nuts from both sides will emerge and argue about something that isn’t relevant to the article.
But Youtube is unique. Sometimes I believe that the site’s comments are overrun by people who are 13. But the thing is, people who are 13 should be way, way smarter.
Consider, for example, this absurd video showing the giant screen behind McCain being overtaken by a Barack Obama rickroll during the campaign. Obviously, this did not happen; it’s a ridiculous parody of a parody of a strange Internet meme.
It’s somewhat disappointing to see a lengthy discussion about whether this actually occurred. Of course it did not. Common sense might dictate that. But it’s more the way people ask that makes me grimmace. Someone says “did that really happen plz plz plz reply,” and then someone else comes along and gives their guess: “now i dont realy think this happend….not to kill anyones buzz, but i think we woulda heard about it if this happend, and im sure someone is going to jail IF (IF) this did happen for real,” says one commenter. (What, exactly, would you go to jail for?) Someone else replies, “this this happen for real,” just before someone else comes along and asks, “this cant be real??? is it?”
Those are the good comments. This is why I want to cry:
So a few comments. First, “you suck” is not terribly constructive criticism. While I’m very happy with the election results, I don’t go around leaving “YOU SUCK” comments on videos of McCain. I’m kind of over the heated election. And frankly, as of late, I think McCain’s been a nice guy.
Then there’s the issue that, out of ten words, six were spelled wrong. “John McCain,” perhaps among the easiest names ever, is wrong both times. First and last. The way embarrassment is spelled is, frankly, an enberesemt to humanity. The fact that they got the name “John” wrong both times is much more troubling than the fact that they never capitalized it or used any punctuation at all.
But none of that bothers me nearly much as something else. Do you see the author’s name? jordanprocutions? I have a sneaking suspicion that they were trying to say “Jordan Productions.” Not only did they get 60% of their words wrong, but they got their own name wrong, too.
So I’m left wondering something I wonder most any time I look at the comments on Youtube: who are these people, and what is wrong with them? First graders? I can’t imagine they’d have strong opinions about JHON MACIN. People who don’t speak English? I can’t imagine they’d be terribly involved in our politics, and I’d think they might go for a more phonetic spelling if they didn’t know. Crazy people? Well, that much is a given.