Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IRL Equivalencies to Bad Internet Behavior

There was a post on recently about how a bunch of parents had their cars towed during drop off at The British School.  They'd parked illegally, but it was sort of SOP to park there and the article was questioning whether or not the towing company was being predatory.

The comments, internet commenters being what they are, instantly devolved into a maelstrom of resentment of these rich parents (the British school being a pretty chichi place).  But while I generally tend toward "kill the rich" style socialism, I empathized with the parents getting towed.  I've been there.

I was going to point out that most of the problems we have in Chicago are first world problems seeing as how Chicago is, you know, in the first world. If the bus were late taking us to school, it would still be a first world problem.  If I tripped on a sidewalk walking to school, that would be a first world problem.  All the problems we have in Chicago are first world problems.   But I decided that life is too short to get into a pie fight with resentful internet commenters* and that I would leave these two to exchange virtual high fives whilst imagining me licking my virtual wounds.

But it got me to wondering if Guest and Johnny behave like that in the real world.  Like if we were all standing in line at Starbucks... wait, not Starbucks. Only people with first world problems go to Starbucks.  Let's imagine we're all waiting for the bus.  So, we're waiting for the bus and a woman starts talking about how her car got towed during drop off at school and I sympathize and say, "It is really stressful on these morning commutes to get your kid to school and then to work especially if there's no place to park!"  Would Guest and Johnny have entered the conversation to scold us for shallowly daring to complain about our lives when other people have worse lives?  Like them?  

Probably not.  In real life, they'd be less scold-y.  More likely, they'd start hard-knocks one-upping: "If it makes you feel better, it takes me 2 hours every morning to get my kid to school because we take two buses and the el."  (Have you noticed that hard-knock one-uppers always start off with "if it makes you feel better"?  Why would it make me feel better that someone is having a harder time than I am?   I do not understand this rhetorical trope.)

What I'm saying here is that I don't think the resentful internet scolder scolds in real life.  But I think they still find some way to make their resentment known. Internet commenters are the worst because you can't change barstools to get away from them.  But it's not the internet that makes them unpleasant.  They are likely just as unpleasant when they have only their own meat suits to hide in.

Take, for example, the rampant LOL abuser.  This is from an Uproxx post about Bill Hader doing some dead on impersonations of his old castmates.  Check out the last comment:

Why on earth would she comment on an Uproxx post that she doesn't watch the show they're posting a video about?**  Did she watch the video? Wouldn't you just scroll right past a post about a show you don't watch?  And who's LOL-ing?  Did she LOL?  Is she asking us to LOL?  When did LOL become a get-out-of-being-called-an-asshole free card?  "I think your new haircut is stupid.  LOL."  "You drink too much because your dad left when you were little. LOL."  "No one has found you sexually attractive since you gained all that weight.  LOL."  

The LOL-abuser, IRL, probably is much like they are on the internet   If this lady were waiting for the bus with the rest of us, she'd be all "I think kids that go to the British school are snooty little shits that should probably get spanked more." And then she'd laugh because it's only a joke (only not really.  LOL).  And when the rest of us looked nonplussed and uncomfortable, she'd say "You guys are soooo sensitive!" And then she'd laugh again because it's only a joke (only not really.  LOL).

I like a lot of people I've never met in real life.  I have many good friends that I've made via this virtual world. And I am confident that I would like them if I were sitting up on a barstool next to them or playing with their kids.  Because it's not the internet that makes people horrible.  It's just a place where horrible people can talk at you.


* While life is too short to get into a pie fight with internet commenters, it is not too short to write  a blogpost about them.  The more you know.

**It is possible that a friend tagged her in the comments and she is talking to her friend.  But even if my example is a bad one, LOL abuse is a diagnosable internet condition