Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Helpful fly-by critics

One amusing thing about Main Street Plaza it the number of fly-by critics we get. By "fly-by" critics, I don't mean people who are intentionally trolling. I mean people who take one look at the site and are incensed -- incensed! -- that non-believers would be discussing Mormonism. We get so many of them that that's our one FAQ.

For a while, I assumed that this is simply because Mormons are taught in church that "apostates" are bitter and hateful. Hence -- if Mormons see any "apostates" on the Internet -- they sometimes post a "Why are you so mean and bitter?" comment without making any attempt to determine whether that criticism applies. I imagined that -- if it weren't for prejudice against former-believers -- they'd have the common courtesy to read the welcome page before criticizing.

The more I thought about it, though, (over the years, as these fly-bys have flown by), the more I asked myself: Is this supposed 'common courtesy' really so common? Do people really read the welcome page and FAQ on other types of sites before posting comments like "I can't believe you people are wasting your time discussing this topic!"

I certainly got my share of that in my few posts on the Hathor Legacy (eg. helpful fly-by: "Why are you wasting your time analyzing a kids' movie? It's just a movie!" me: "Um, because I find the topic interesting. If you don't, then I agree that one of us is wasting time by participating in this discussion. But it's not me.")

Then I thought: Maybe these helpful fly-bys only appear on blogs about touchy topics like feminism or religion -- topics where some people feel threatened by the mere existence of discussions they disagree with. Maybe blogs on topics that really are frivolous [royal wedding watchers, Edward Cullen's hair-care tips] don't get as many "This site is so stoopid, you all need to get a life!" comments.

But what do I know? I'm starting to think that all websites get these. My kids have been watching some (rather ridiculous) YouTube videos reviewing various Lego sets. And even there, one of them spent a good three minutes complaining about all of the negative comments. His advice? "If you don't like these videos, don't watch them." Makes sense to me.

The thing is that the Internet is full of people discussing every topic you could possibly imagine (and plenty of other topics that you would never have thought of in a million years). There are so many interesting discussions to read -- plus an uncountable number of discussions that you personally won't find interesting (but someone else, apparently, does find interesting). That's what I find perplexing. Given the infinite selection and finite amount of time -- why take the time to read the ones you find uninteresting and post comments telling them how uninteresting you find them?

But that what I love about the Internet -- you're exposed to so many new mysteries of human nature to contemplate!! My personal motto is a variant of a famous quote by Spinoza: "I strive not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them."


Anonymous said...

Sometimes those comments from "anonymous" and the other fly-bys do an excellent job of illustrating our point.

groovesocket said...

Thanks for articulating a topic that I've always been curious about. It's similar to product reviews where rest assured you'll always find someone who didn't like the product and give it a low rating. When you read the review, often times the reason(s) for disliking the product are personal and don't apply to the general consumer.

Carla Schmidt Holloway said...

I can't believe you wasted time posting about this. This is so uninteresting. Nobody cares. ;-)

I have at least learned to laugh at the "you are worthless because you disagree with me" and "you are an idiot because you are interested in something I find boring" comments. They soooo make my point for me.

Paul Sunstone said...

Spinoza was certainly onto something. I only wish I were as good as he was in simply understanding things.

The Dissonance said...

Love the title and might have to nab it for a post. I'm guessing I don't get as many critics on my site though. Hand tough.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks, all!!!

Yeah, I imagine a lot of bloggers have cause to contemplate these. ;)

C. L. Hanson said...

p.s. to all

Since posting this, I've come across more examples of the same phenomenon. I'm going to collect the links in this thread for future reference:

a humble request for you to stop talking about gender issues on your blog.

And bonus points for irony:

Stop posting experiences that don't match mine because "you have got to get it through your head that people can have opinions. This is an absolute joke. Grow up and do something with your life"

kuri said...

"I strive not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them."

I mostly laugh at them.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Kuri!!!

LOL, that's also a good system! ;)