Sunday, June 1, 2014

If Facebook & Twitter were real...

So, I got involved in a bit of a spat recently with a commenter on the BBC America web site. Usually, because I write for them, I refrain from making personal comments on my posts or the other writers'. However, I quite often step in and explain that it's a blog for Brits in America therefore the fact that we don't understand health insurance terms (for example) the minute we step off the boat, doesn't make us stupid, ignorant or uneducated. (Yes, we've been called all those and more).

A few days ago there was a post about US foods; one commenter gently laid into the writer for missing out a boat load of related topics and proceeded to include them in his/her quite lengthy comment. To explain the omissions,  I left a comment "Two words - word count". What I meant was, we can't write a tome because we have a word count to stick to. Many people thought I was telling the lengthy commenter to button it, which, hopefully you'll know, I would never do. 

My goodness, the comments I received in retaliation were amazing, even when my meaning was explained. 

"You must be a hoot during festivities." - Anon (of course)

 "I find that sort of attitude frankly pathetic. Too many people feel if it doesn't fit in a tweet, it's somehow unfit for consumption; or the thesis inexplicably invalidated."

"hahaha... sounds like the time it takes for people to realize you have nothing to say... NEXT ......... "(scootergirl)

Seriously people? Even when the middle commenter admitted that s/he had misunderstood my comment, s/he still went on to reprimand me for that fact that no one writes more than two minutes' worth of copy these days. Yada, yada. I was going to explain that I'm  not head of the BBC and if someone gives me a word count, I stick to it. Instead I took the highest road possible and apologized for the massive offense I had obviously given. Yes, I know - passive aggressive. Couldn't resist.

But to my point - can you imagine if real life were played out like our social media experiences? You'd be sitting in the park watching your kids play with a group of random kids, the parents all sitting a comfortable distance apart. 

You - "Thank goodness the weather's finally broken. I thought summer would never come."
Random parent - "Oh quit whining you pathetic douche."
2nd Rando - "Yeah," 

Or perhaps you're with a group of friends and there's a couple of people you've never met before. You're sitting around, chatting - 

You - "How about them Cubs/Dodgers/Marlins?"
Newbie - "Oh, how did I know you'd be a Cubs/Dodgers/Marlins fan?"
You - "I'm sorry what?"
Newbie - (Mimicking) "I'm sorry what?"

Obviously in the virtual world we can block people, not engage in conversation or leave groups, but it still absolutely bloody amazes me that people talk to complete strangers like that, assume fairly negative character traits about them with no evidence at all and insult them in the most appalling way. Obviously such people aren't the type I would mix with in the real world so I tend to give them a wide berth on social media.

But really!


  1. I think the difference in culture can bring about these misunderstandings without any offence being meant.
    I'm sure you'd never provoke anyone into an argument.
    I can't bear people making snide comments so I think I'll stick to the blog and leave all these other social networks alone.
    I'm probably missing out!
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  2. Some people are vile; pure and simple. What makes it even worse is the fact that they wouldn't do it to your face - but only while hidden behind a keyboard.

  3. I pretty much second Gigi's comment, but there are people (unfortunately) who will happily insult you to your face, as well, based on just as little information.

    After years moseying about the Net and making comments of my own which were subsequently completely misunderstood (which happens with e-mails sometimes, too), it has occurred to me that there are a good many folks who don't catch nuances of phrasing or punctuation. Add that to baseline ignorance of many topics (like mandatory word counts for writers), and you can end up with the most innocuous observation inciting a flame war.

    When that happens, it makes my blood boil. I want so badly to set them straight, but I have learned that it is often better to Just Let It Go.

    As the saying goes, You can't fix stupid.

  4. Just found my way here via Sarah at St Bloggie de Rivière... hello!
    I've seen some huge cat fights on Facebook - it's the impressive amount of spelling mistakes generally puts me off reading any further before the bad behaviour does.
    There are so many brave people out there who spend their time seeking conflict with complete strangers on the net in the happy conviction that they will never have to face them to apologize. Karma will bite them on the bum eventually.
    The best policy is to avoid feeding the troll - the more you answer, the more they lay in. There' a pack mentality too - jumping on the bandwagon with the first person who opens their big mouth appears to be a trend.

  5. "'s the impressive amount of spelling mistakes THAT generally puts me off reading any further before the bad behaviour does." Oops. That is what we call Muphry's law, the copy editor's Karma.

  6. I must offer defense of Toni, a woman who I have debated many times and on many sites. She is one of the few people on this wide web with whom I can have a civil disagreement. To those who assumed the insult in her short comment, you likely jumped to conclusions too quickly.


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