Internet comment etiquette: why do we all get it so wrong?

08.11.2018 | By ELENA LONGARI

Our era is the era of ‘images’,  one in in which our brain cells respond to visuals, high-speed stimulations and not dedication is put into understanding, getting to the bottom of things, answering the questions you or someone else raised in the first place. I’m no stranger to this tendency and find myself at times scrolling through the dozens of links to articles, stories and videos and get drown more by the reactions posted by fellow internet users.

In an era of clickbait and the eternal search for views and likes, sometimes reading what people say about a topic is actually one of my favourite activities: but amongst the blunt humours comments and dirty jokes, shall we draw a line and establish boundaries on what is OK to say and what is bound to be offensive? Should we all follow an internet comment etiquette?

Politeness is overrated

I’m bracing for what the comments under the link to this article will be as I type the following sentence: why should there be an internet etiquette, when we could all simply stick to our ‘civil human beings’ etiquette? The answer is the big elephant in the room in the era of social media and like addictions: once we hit our smartphone or whatever other screen, we transform. The urge of spitting cynical full of typos sentences and hit the ‘comment’ button is too much, and so is the inevitable IDGAF attitude that comes with it in considering other’s feelings, never mind losing our own face. Would anyone in the right frame of mind openly insult another human being, maybe after overhearing their conversation on dog poops while queuing at the post office? Nope, or at least, it doesn’t happen in such a mathematical algorithm as it happens on social media.

The hype is stronger than keeping face

So why are we even talking about an internet comment etiquette, if we could all just count to 10 and act as if people could see us for real  instead of hiding behind our screens and keyboards?

That’s because it is too damn good exciting, the hype of leaving bad comments and hoping to piss someone off. Or isn’t it? What do you think went through this guy’s head when he commented to this video on ‘how to use a bidet’ – I just typed ‘how to use…’ and this was the first result I got. Was he trying to be funny, or maybe just drunk? He wouldn’t have said that face to face, would he? A good internet comment etiquette rule on sexual innuendos is : don’t write anything that could lead others to think you are a perv.

I'm a bully, and you are too. 50 comments summed up.

Politics. Social issues and such. All these are the topics on social media triggering mayhem, where ‘viral’ simply means users losing their shit and bullying, shaming and creating all that nonsense back and forth of replies that have me questioning: really, is this what you have been up to for the last 2 hours? Boredom and accumulated anger are the main culprits in pushing users to vomit the worst ever words they have come up with in their life. So, a good internet comment etiquette would be, don’t write to others what you wouldn’t like others writing to you.

Are we ever going to agree on anything over the web?

But if on one side we are prone to learn and commit to internet etiquette, on the other the celebs themselves don’t set very admirable examples on how to behave on the internet. Mocking each other, using each other for views and publicity. Eminem is the exception that confirms this rule though: he didn’t take on social media to crap all over Machine Gun Kelly, he did it in his diss-track Killshot from the surprise album Kamikaze. The paradox of the internet is the level of internet comment etiquette I can observe in the YouTube comments: not a single thumb down, OK, but the place appears like a hub of ‘let’s all be nice, life is as rosy as ever’, by people who idolise a rapper whose  anger precedes him.

China has announced they will be launching a system of good deeds, by which citizens will be able to gain rewards and access certain services only by acquiring ‘points’ similarly to what teachers do with kids assigning them gold stars when they behave well.

It’s perfect for a country that bans all social media, isn’t it?


So, what are you going to type? I won’t take offence , but I won’t give you any gold stars either.