Rob's Soapbox Archives
July 26th, 2010
THE COMMENTS BOX
I not only understand, I embrace the ever-changing technology of our culture; I am not some old, out-of-touch fuddy-duddy who decries “kids these days” as he reads the morning paper soaking in news that is 18 hours old.
I am the guy who began saying a decade ago that the very industry I am in (terrestrial radio) is a dinosaur destined to fall to the wayside of history next to the buggy whip, not just because there are easier, better, and faster ways for you to be entertained and informed, but also because the people who permeate the radio industry are stubborn, stupid and cowardly.
So I get it. The world has changed and how we interact with one-another has changed with it. I text but don’t twitter, because less than 15% of the population tweets and 99% of them are celebrities talking to one another. Real people don’t tweet; it’s a medium that was dead on arrival and is maintained today only by its cache. In 2015, when everyone in America owns the ability to e-mail, text and go online in the palm of their hand, Twitter will be a forgotten fad (y’know like radio). Similarly, I am online constantly but do not have a Facebook page for nothing more than personal reasons; I think Facebook and similar forms of social networking are nothing more than pathetic cries for attention. Rob is writing his weekly column right now.
In my industry, I am acutely aware, more so than most everyone else that does what we do, of the growing influence, importance and impact of internet radio and/or utilizing web-based technology as opposed to old-school radio. Our show is making strides towards that realization as the majority of our industry focuses on getting the Nickleback to “host an hour of radio” in the studio…ooooohhh….compelling.
So I get it. Technology and human interaction are now one. People do read blogs; millions of people in fact read the musings of hundreds of bloggers who now write from their homes, their boats, their poolside lounge chairs and their parents’ basements. Society gets its fastest, most accurate news not from cable news, but from Google News. Friends stay connected with their cell phones, their personal web pages and their emails. Fine; I am not one of those who decries that we have lost touch with the personal interaction of being with other humans, because I have always felt we were a little too connected and touchy-feely in this country anyways. Independence, solitude, and the understanding that you are the only one responsible for you is a good thing; not that I am suggesting that is the lesson most people are learning from the ability to communicate without being with someone, merely I am hoping that will someday be the lesson learned.
As with all actions, choices and advancements there are unfortunate consequences, none more so revolting in this day and age than the expansion, acceptance and use of the comments box. Never before have more idiots had more access to instant credibility, gratification and legitimacy in their own minds.
As a function of preparing each days’ show, I spend a great deal of time on the internet scouring dozens of various news and information sites trying to find the most compelling stories, situations, polls, surveys, events and opinions that will translate into our show. From Fox News to the Huffington Post and everything in between, almost every one of these sites attaches to each of their stories the ability of any moron to “leave a comment” below the story, for all future readers to see.
The comment box has become the new Petri dish for ignorant, angry, pathetic America. I admit that I get a good laugh reading some of them, but the greater narrative here is the (ironic) commentary on our society such comments leave.
Nary is there a comment on Fox News’ website that doesn’t begin with the phrase “these damn liberals,” or “Obama’s socialist agenda.” Equally as pathetic is the consistency with which Huffington Post readers find a way, in their comments, to blame everything from the BP oil spill to Lebron James’ decision to sign with Miami on George W. Bush.
Such idiocy is to be expected from ideologues who see everything from their skewered prism. But what of normal, everyday Americans who time and again display their “look at me” symbolism by commenting on tragic stories with their sentiments of regret for the victim?
For example, children die every day in America, and because of the tragically painful magnitude of such a loss, almost each of them is rightfully reported by a series of news sites. Below each is the dreaded comments box with posts from losers across the globe such as “my heart goes out to the parents.” End of post. Or, “such a tragic time for the family, keep them in your prayers.” End of post.
Such deep, well thought out sentiments are not only worthless and meaningless, they are selfish and narcissistic. They are nothing more than the next extension of symbolism beyond wearing a red ribbon to show that you are “against AIDS,” (a truly courageous stance for one to take; look at me…I do NOT want peoples’ immune systems to be compromised, unlike that guy over there who isn’t wearing a ribbon…he clearly wishes death and disease upon all). The irony of course is that almost everyone who wore a ribbon did and gave nothing towards preventing the spread of the actual disease. The wearing of the ribbon was nothing more than a way to say “look at me, I am a good person because I care,” (even though I do nothing to actually help or prevent the very problem that I allegedly care about).
The comments box is this new symbolism. People leave their heartfelt thoughts and then get up from the computer to report to their friends and family (most likely via face book now that I think about it) that they have done their good deed of the day by leaving a thought of regret for the family of the victims. Look at me, aren’t I nice and caring?
Grow up. No family mourning the loss of their baby to a drowning accident wants to know or gives a rat’s ass about Donna in Birmingham having them in her prayers. Equally as unimportant is the fact that David in New Jersey sends his regrets. Hey David, if the family cared about you or your regrets you would have their phone number or email, not an anonymous place in cyberspace you shallow, hollow, image-conscious scumbag.
An equally pathetic an entertaining aspect of the comments box is when two or three “commentors” get in a running fight with one another. It usually goes like this:
-My heart goes out to the family. Donna in Birmingham
-Donna, while your thoughts are sweet, you should blame the parents for having not kept an eye on their child. Shirley in Albuquerque
-Shirley, I pray for your soul. Donna in Birmingham
-Donna, you should pray for yourself. Shirley in Albuquerque
-Shirley, right back at ya. Donna in Birmingham
That’s good stuff. America at its finest right there, wouldn’t you say? Perhaps we should send Donna and Shirley to Jerusalem to negotiate a Middle East peace accord; they should have it worked out in no time.
At the risk of sounding a little too much like Glenn Beck I ask you, where have you gone America? How in the world have we come to a place where dueling housewives spar via anonymous invectives on a news website over the death of a child they never knew at the hands of parents they have never met? Jesus jumped up Christ we are pathetic.
Please send me your comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org