By: Brian Mangan
There is a new fad around the internet that is no good. It began in a little corner of the web one day, perhaps a similar style post made it to Upworthy one day, then the style drifted on to Buzzfeed or some other click-hungry site. Now, it threatens to overwhelm the public discourse.
I am talking about large websites that aggregate the world’s dumbest (and usually most racist) tweets and writes an entire article to say “look what people are saying about [relevant news topic]!!!!!”
There have been dozens of examples over the last few months, but the most recent example is the alleged “controversy” over Coca Cola’s Super Bowl ad. If you didn’t see it, Coca Cola’s ad features the song “America the Beautiful”, sung initially in English but then sung in a number of other languages, over a montage of patriotic American images.
Some people on the internet didn’t like the multicultural advertisement, so the content-aggregating sites pounced.
Buzzfeed covered it here.
Raw Story covered it here.
Mediaite covered it here.
In each case, the article was nothing more than a serial list of tweets from random morons on the internet. And don’t get me wrong — most of the tweets are completely reprehensible. The worst one was this one:
However, enough is enough. A “troll” is defined on wikipedia as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people.” These outlets, by actively searching out the worst-of-the-worst and compiling it in one place, are doing exactly that. Hell, there is even a tumblr dedicated to it; one which blew up today with this Coca Cola outrage: Public Shaming.
Thanks to Twitter, in today’s world, everyone has an outlet where they can reach the entire world. There are a lot of people in the world, so there are a lot of idiots.
Imagine if every jerk-off you’ve ever met in a bar had the ability to grab a microphone and spew whatever vile thing they wanted onto a loudspeaker in Times Square. Imagine that they could do it instantly, at the click of a button, without a moment to reconsider their words.
That is what Twitter allows people to do. And, of course, sites jockeying for traffic dig and dig until they find the very worst examples of humanity.
Human nature is sometimes ugly. Want to know how ugly? Take a look at the responses to @eljunglecat, the girl who posted probably the most reprehensible (and high visibility) tweets in response to the Coca Cola ad. What she posted was terrible, but looking at the thumbnail, she’s nothing more than a little girl. Nonetheless, one of the three most recent tweets at her account regrets that people were unable to identify her in real life before her account was deleted:
Why would people want to find her in real life? To ruin her employment opportunities for life? To harm her physically? To shame her forever? All of these sentiments are ugly.
The people that say these vile things deserve to be called out – but losing our minds because some 14 year old girl in Alabama said something bad on Twitter once is not productive, and in fact obscures the issues at hand, when the vast majority of the people watching that commercial probably enjoyed it.
Stop giving those troll websites page views. Concerned about vile racist backlash to the Coca Cola commercial? Link to an actual source instead. Link to CNN, or a news video, or heck, even a legitimate conservative site to see what their take is on it. Don’t link to a lazy aggregation. Don’t feed the trolls.
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Brian Mangan is an old fart that doesn’t like twitter.
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