As the old internet adage goes, you should never read the comments.
This is because the comments section is apparently an unmoderated cesspool of hatred and idiocy, with comments on social media sites and content sharing platforms like Facebook and YouTube supposedly being the worst of the worst.
But is this really the case? Are internet comments really that bad?
Honestly, I don’t think they are. In fact, I think comments and comment sections are some of the most unfairly maligned aspects of the entire internet, and that most of the hatred people have them is way overblown.
And I think that’s the case because people don’t realise one thing about them. One thing that makes all the difference in how the comments for an article or video turn out.
Namely, that the topic of the article or video in question sets the tone for the discussion to follow.
Seriously, that’s all it comes down to. Discussions about politics and religion will almost always be more ‘toxic’ than those about games, music or movies.
It’s not surprising at all. Especially as (another) old adage says you shouldn’t really be discussing said topics with people you want to remain on good terms with, or that you don’t deeply trust/get along with in some manner or another.
So of course things will be bad if that’s what you’re reading comments about. Discussions about Donald Trump, the alt-right, conspiracy theories or popular political movements like Black Lives Matter will likely be absolute hell because of how deeply controversial they are in real life. It’s the topic that makes them toxic, not the format or the people posting them.
Yet most topics aren’t like this. Most comment sections are perfectly fine.
Like those on gaming news site articles. They can be bad when the topic is particularly political (like GamerGate or Feminist Frequency stuff), but for the most part, they’re just about what you’d expect them to be. People posting thoughts on games, wishlists for upcoming events, opinions on rumours and news, etc.
Same goes with the comments for most YouTubers I watch too. The comments for videos by folks like Arlo, SwankyBox, TWD98 and Source Gaming are generally on the reasonable site, and just cover things found in the video or people’s online experiences in the video.
And it’s also true of my own articles and videos too. Very few of them see much hostility in their comments sections and in fact I’ve had some good discussions in said section too.
So let’s drop the whole don’t read the comments/comments sections are terrible meme eh?
It’s neither true nor particularly fair to most people using the internet.