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 Life Skills for Fanboys:  The Intolerant Internet

 written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2015

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.  Previous columns are indexed at the end.

Holy Shit Fuck:  The Internet is Intolerant

If you read today’s headline thinking that I’m going to write about how racist, culturally insensitive or awful Internet comments can be—  Well, you’re sorta half right.

Recently, there has been a crushing wave of people being singled out for their ignorant behavior.  Whether it’s someone making a racist comment or sexist comment or just someone caught doing something wrong.  The Internet quickly descends upon this person and self-righteously condemns them over and over again, until the next incident.  Within a few weeks, we’re so many incidents removed from the first hypothetical one, everyone is off to skewer some other intolerant jackass.

I’m not here to make a plea for racism or racists or any other kind of asshole.  But if I spent just five seconds going after every person on the Internet that pissed me off, I’d die of starvation in front of my screen without a single update ever again.  And some of the people I disagree with and are annoyed by are family, friends and fans.  So it may even be someone reading this right now.

But ultimately, so what?  I tolerate the annoyance.  We all do.  We all have to.  People are different and annoying.  Some people are extremely different and extremely annoying.  As long as they are not physically harming anyone, destroying property or hindering people from getting away from them—  Who cares?  Ignore them.

The Logical Conclusion of Message Boards

Back in the day, when message boards were all the rage, I was there.  Like most people, I got caught up in the postings, got into disagreements and eventually realized I was placing my own emotional emphasis on things.  The drama I created and/or participated in felt important in the moment, but I’d eventually get bored with it and move on.  So would the other people.  Who cares, right?  I mean, these sorts of incidents would eventually ruin a message board.  It would get territorial and people would try to moderate the speech, but it never worked.  The pendulum would swing back the other way, driving people away until the board was dead.

Something similar is now happening with the Internet.  Like one big massive message board, the collective social media gets caught up in something, it snowballs—  The reactions get bigger, as do the responses to the reactions.  You have no further to look than Reddit.  Although never considered a “pure” place for freedom of speech, the owners cracked down after everyone pushed their luck on various message boards which you may or may not have thought were funny.  The speech doesn’t change, it merely starts to move away from Reddit and congregate somewhere else.  It’s the message board syndrome, only slower.

WTF Do We Do?

Nothing.  There’s nothing to be done, except you could just fucking ignore annoying people.  Racist, sexist, insulting—  Whatever offends you, the Internet is big enough that you can avoid it forever.  And yes, there are trolls that live to stir things up.

Ignore them.

Trolls have no self-esteem.  The whole reason they troll is to get attention.  If you ignore them, they go away or just get tired and give up.  We’ve had them here and on The Webcomic Factory.  As a professional comedy writer, I can run circles around them, but it gets me nowhere.  Trolls are the judge and jury of their own behavior, so even if you “beat” them at their own game, they’ll never own up to it.  So if you can’t win, you’re just delaying the inevitable.

Tolerate it.  Wait it out and move on.

This is what we need to do on the Internet.  Kim Davis?  Well, I’m sure with enough complaints, she’ll be fired.  That’s up to the people who live in her county.  That coach in Missouri?  Same thing.  Sure you can show your support for the people on the right side of it, but don’t pretend like the world is waiting for your tweet, facebook post or whatever.

Support Without Credit

You want to really support a cause?  Quietly donate to it and don’t take credit for it.  Don’t brag to your friends, just do it.  The important thing is, you’re supporting something you believe in, not that you get credit for it every ten seconds.  That’s troll behavior.  That’s your low self-esteem saying, “Oh, God!  Please recognize how wonderful I am!”  Yeah, I’m a big anti-war guy, but I let my message come out in the work.  I’m not spending my days constantly insulting people that disagree with me.  (And there are a ton.)

So let’s all just relax.  And the next time someone says something stupid that really offends you, take a moment to collect yourself.  Don’t react emotionally.  Correct if you want, but leave the emotion out of it.  And you comment on this column, feel free.

But if you’re going to be an asshole, don’t expect a response.

Previous Columns
Obesity at Cons
The Art of Conversation
The Line Between Fans and Pros
Geek Elitism
Convention Panels
Convention Volunteers
Food Gifts
Women and Cons
Get Your Room Party Together
Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons
The Face of Geek Needs Work
Fixing the Face of Geek
Franchise Worship
Presenting Your Project
The New Image?
Stop Trying to Make Geek Cool
 Rethinking the Comic Book Con
Zombie Stories Should Still Be About People
Geek Stereotypes and the Big Bang Theory
Con Locations
Traveling to Cons on the Cheap
Con Economics
Comics, Sexism and Trolling
Searching for the Words
How to Fix Comics?  Stop Reading Them
Shopping at the Con
The Hollywood Double Edged Sword
Beware the Geek Scams
Success Kills
In Response to Chuck Dixon, Paul Rivoche and Janelle Asselin
Fanboy Reporters
Dealing with Critics and Haters in the Internet Age
Who Are the Creepers?
The Cosplayer Treaty of 2014: A Proposal
Female Thor
Comics’ Non-News
Geek Feminists and DC’s T-Shirts

Cosplay Blowback

Charlie Hebdo and the Other Stuff You Should Know

Customer Service