By Ben Olson
More time at home should mean more time spent with family; but, unfortunately, it probably means an uptick in the amount of time people spend on social media.
Over the past five years of publishing the Reader, I’ve seen every manner of comments posted on our Facebook wall. They run the gamut: from silly and inane to ignorant and downright threatening — the latter being the reason we regularly wade through the muck and mire to moderate inappropriate comments. Here’s a quick breakdown of the types of commenters I’ve noticed we have a lot of here in North Idaho. Which category do you fall under?
This is becoming rarer on social media. The thankful/positive commenter mainly adds affirmations to posts, thanking or recognizing people or organizations for some good they’ve done. Keep it up, you brave souls. I admire your dedication.
You know this one. We have dozens of them on our page. No matter what the subject matter of the post, they’ll find something negative to say about it. You could post that you’re giving away $100 to the first person who comments and, if they won, they’d complain that the bill was wrinkled. Sometimes I just want to give these wet blankets a hug, because they obviously need a little brightness in their lives.
Don’t Feed the Trolls
A growing majority of Facebook commenters seem to operate best only while trolling people. In case you just time-traveled from 1920 to the present day, trolls don’t live under bridges anymore, they slurp tall cans of some nasty energy drink and write even nastier, provocative comments on social media with one intent: to bother/irritate/annoy or trigger a certain group of people. Or they’re bots programmed to destroy us.
Seriously, trolls just want to watch the world burn. You can have a productive comment stream going for days until one troll gets in the mix and ruins it all.
The best practice with trolls is to ignore them as much as possible. Like bullies, they are more or less cowards who desire attention — of the negative, in particular.
The crop duster is a unique subgenre of troll who visits a post, drops a snarky or inappropriate comment that sends people reeling, deletes the comment and then stands back to laugh as people tear each other apart. Crop dusters are especially frustrating because after they delete their comments, it just looks like a bunch of normal people are yelling about nothing, which seems to be their goal. Jerks.
The conspiracy theorist feels as if no one listens to them. They’ve been ostracized from many public gatherings because of their references to vaccinations causing autism or chemtrails in the sky or the deep state hard at work. Social media is the last medium in which they can traffic nonsensical conspiracy theories — most of which have been disproven since before the internet was even a thing. They probably wear tinfoil hats and call InfoWars the “news.” Pay no attention to them. Seriously, they just don’t matter.
Whether coming from the far right or far left, the angry extremist commenters will respond to others in a tone of fury because their extremist views are often panned by the more moderate population. It doesn’t matter how many times you “God bless America” or cite your faulty sources, your views are still waaay beyond what could be classified as “normal.” Chill out and read a book.
Which category are you? Which do you want to be? Are you helping or hurting? You’re in charge of those fingers, bub.
Check back next week for Part 2 of this column.
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