SPOILER: I am going to get crucified in the comment section about this piece. I know it's coming and I'm just a bit terrified. But bring it on...
One of my favorite things to mention when bragging about The Daily Banter is our impeccably high-minded comment section.
If you go almost anywhere else on the web, comment sections are the place where intelligent, respectful debates go to die at the hands of trolls, bigots, and general assholes. However, somehow, The Daily Banter’s readership has decided to rise above this misanthropy-inducing phenomenon.
And that’s a beautiful thing that must be protected.
When I started writing full time, I inevitably ran into my series of detractors via comment sections (and let me tell you, there is no one meaner than a music-loving hipster who can’t believe you just said _____ was a good band). They’d pull out all the stops and go for the jugular in a heartbeat. A bit frazzled by it all at first, I went to my friend and fellow writer Nathan Scott who works at the USA TODAY and asked his advice. He told me that the sign of a real writer is having the discipline to not pay attention to the comment section.
Well I guess I’m not there yet, but I don’t know if I ever want to be.
Our commenters are some of the brightest, most thought-provoking readers out there, and I don’t know why I wouldn’t want to keep the conversation going if someone brings up a great counter-point or asks an interesting follow-up question. My name may be at the top of the article, but we’re a community here and we’re all in this together just trying to find our own personal truths.
But that leads me to my next point:
WE NEED TO STOP AIMLESSLY INSULTING EACH OTHER WITH NO END GAME
Let me backtrack...
Over the past two days, I wrote a very fun-to-write piece on which young actress would become this generation’s Jennifer Aniston and another admitting my inner instinctual bias against all things NCAA and how it relates to the Florida State rape scandal. The Aniston piece was received very well, which didn’t surprise me; it had pictures of pretty girls, Hesiman Trophy comparisons, and was just kind of silly. The Florida State piece, however, was an expected bear-poker which brought out some pretty divisive responses.
And I love that.
Sure it stings when people think I’m being racist when I say that I can’t help but side against athletes, even before I hear any real details, when things like the Florida State case are brought to light. I want to grab them by the shirt, pull their face close to mine, and scream, "THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE; THIS PIECE WAS ABOUT NCAA SCANDALS AS A WHOLE!”
And yes I get flustered when "intellectuals" can’t understand why I’d want to write about things like Kanye West ad nauseam or Jennifer Aniston’s career and how the internet might have affected it, but pop culture analysis is a navel-gazing form of anthropology and I just really miss Friends.
Plus I kind of love all this.
I love hearing people's adamant opinions. You think I’m being racist? Let me know, tell me why, we’ll chat about it. You can’t understand why I’d admit to having a bias about something before I find out any real information? I’d love to explain where I’m coming from. Hell, my email is on the site (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I love an excuse to not be doing real work. We can become those friends that don’t see eye to eye on anything but who give each other great Christmas presents because we understand one another on a deeper level.
But what I can’t stand, and what we as a community shouldn’t tolerate, is objective-less, ignorant vitriol in our comment section, which brings me back to my original point:
We are being too mean to one another with no real purpose.
In those comment threads, a few users were slinging some pretty terrible things across the web at one another without backing them up with actual rebuttals, and it dragged the whole energy of the thread down.
To keep it light though, here's an example from my Jennifer Aniston piece that takes aim at yours truly:
This is The Daily Banter. We get our kicks by making snarky, hopefully-educated comments and shitting on people who take themselves too seriously.
And that doesn’t mean don’t take things seriously and it also doesn't mean don't write funny quips just for the sake of being funny, but I hope that everyone who feels compelled to join in on the conversations seriously thinks about what they mean. I saw a great comment on the rape scandal thread by a user named oYAH:
It takes effort, however minute, to hit the Reply button, type your thoughts out, and hit Send. Does anyone really want to waste effort and time just to put out pure negativity into the world? And on an article that included dumb GIFs and the phrase "cutie pie"? Apparently yes.
But maybe we as a community here can stop shitting on each other with non-constructive lambasting and keep these conversations productive. Tell me I’m a hack journalist or tell me one of my articles is spitting in the face of young black men, sure, but at least tell me why you think that. Let the person who commented before you know that you disagree with them wholeheartedly, but after calling them an "ignorant jackass", let them know what makes you feel that way.
And lay off talking about my penis’ appointments with imaginary women. He’s sensitive.