The internet is the worst. I hate it. You — if you’re being honest — hate it too. Believe it or not, we don’t all hate the internet just because we’re malcontents (although you very well might be). We actually have good reasons to hate the internet, including that it’s making us easily distracted, more depressed, and more angry. Did I mention it’s the worst?
But if there is an area of the internet that is the absolute filthiest cesspool of human id, it is the comment section found after any article. Strangely, it doesn’t matter what the article is about or who wrote it. It could be about bird watching in New Zealand written by a 70 year-old, a high school basketball team in Iowa, or a movie that 14 people saw. If there is a comment section after it, it will undoubtedly lead to an argument about whatever was written, followed by a debate about various commenters’ sexual habits, and then finally an internet shouting match about religion and/or politics. I mean, honestly, people can’t even read an article about a rainbow cake without the comment section descending into chaos.
To make the comment phenomenon worse, it’s impossible not to read the comments. If someone has figured out how to avert eyes away from the lower end of a page, please let me know. But no matter how enlightening or well-written the article is, you and I both know that we read the comments after it, which usually completely ruins the article and/or the rest of our day. There is no way to read a comment section and feel better about the human species.
Here’s the kicker, though: It’s not just that the comments are annoying or upsetting — the comments are actually making us all dumber. Need proof? After conducting a study, the Popular Science website decided to no longer accept comments on its articles. The study found that the comment section under a story had the capacity to change a reader’s interpretation of the expert analysis given in the article, even if the comments were completely wrong.
Popular Science explains further: “A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to ‘debate’ on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.”
Of course, Popular Science isn’t the only site to have a problem with their comment section. The problem is everywhere and various sites have tried different ways to solve it. Back in 2013, The Huffington Post decided to ban anonymous comments. After a recent problem with commenters posting violent images, Gawker introduced a pending comment system. Unfortunately, neither of these systems are perfect, which is why the time has come to ban comments. Just get rid of them entirely. If, in some ideal world, comment sections fostered healthy and reasonable debate, then fine we could keep them. But that’s never going to happen in an online forum, even if somehow commenters are forced to use their real identities. If you want to discuss an article, that’s great, but you’ll have to do it on Facebook and Twitter or through email or livechats.
I wish things could be different, but we consistently prove that we can’t have nice things. Apparently, we’re just not ready for comment sections. Maybe someday our grandchildren will decide they’re ready for comment sections and give it another go. Until then, let’s ban comments.
Your comments are welcome below.
Previously from Charlie Crespo:
♦ Striker Depth Could be Achilles Heel for Chelsea
♦ Viral Video of the Week: Best Restaurant Commercial of All Time
♦ Viral Video of the Week: Georgia Bulldogs’ Malcolm Mitchell is in the Best Book Club
♦ For the New York Jets, Fireman Ed is the One that Got Away
♦ In Praise of KSU President Raymond Burse