The Internet’s Altar of Umbrage

I’m working on some other posts related to fandom. One is a follow-up in the Crisis of Infinite Star Treks series (where I talk about fan involvement with Star Trek throughout, but specifically go into more here and here.) I’m also working on a longer piece about getting one’s own creative work out there and developing fans oneself.

One struggle I’ve had of late has been how much the Internet thrives on hate and outrage. I don’t just mean comments at the bottoms of articles which, by and large, are probably better left unread. I don’t even mean how social media discussion threads can go horribly hateful, though that’s certainly something to always be wary. I’m thinking more along the lines of every fun Internet series like Honest Trailers, there’s a more bile-infested series along the lines “Everything wrong with [Movie]” or “Why [Movie] Really Sucks” or so on. Pair that with all the ‘clickbaity’ article headlines of the “[Thing] will complete shock you” variety and, well, guess why some of those social media threads devolve?

I realize this is neither a new nor uniquely groundbreaking observation, but it’s been on my mind given the pieces I’ve been working on, with two articles particularly making me think about the course of events.

Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic back in January about how the Internet has eroded the ability for people to, well, essentially, curate their identity in different places. You still can, but the unification of self everywhere on every channel is problematic. The fact that this erosion is fueled by outrage does not help matters.

The other factor is how corporations are adopting this particular Internet flavor of umbrage as a standard advertising tactic, as Luke Winkie wrote today in Vox.

I guess I just don’t want anyone to feed the trolls even if they think they know how to use the trolls for their own ends. Don’t we have countless cautionary tales about how well that sort of thing turns out?

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