Speaking at this year’s annual South by Southwest Interactive, the annual festival devoted to Web and digital culture, Gawker Media founder Nick Denton says that the comments sections in online posts have become a joke, and are off-topic and toxic, CNN reports. Originally, there were apparently high hopes for internet discourse, and some people thought that the internet would bring a wide variety of perspectives to the marketplace of ideas? Or something? But these same “some people” seem shocked and disappointed that what they actually got was a bunch of stomach-churning, porntastic online misogyny and woman-hatred. Only, Denton isn’t describing it as such.
From the article:
A decade and a half [since the internet began], the very idea [of the internet provoking thoughtful sharing and discussion] is laughable, says Gawker Media founder Nick Denton.
“It didn’t happen,” said Denton, whose properties include the blogs Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, io9 and Lifehacker. “It’s a promise that has so not happened that people don’t even have that ambition anymore.
“The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership — that’s a joke.”
Aw, poor baby! His hopes for humanity — which he obviously had pinned on his fellow man, meaning male-bodied persons — have been dashed. The poor dear can’t even venture into the comments sections on his own (high-traffic, revenue generating) blogs:
He said that commenting on his own sites (which he’s seen make reporters cry) has gotten so bad that he doesn’t engage.
“I don’t like going into the comments. … For every two comments that are interesting — even if they’re critical, you want to engage with them — there will be eight that are off-topic or just toxic,” he said.
And as sites get more popular, it’s harder to control the comments, which inevitably get nastier.
“What you can manage on a small site … the level of discussion you can have on those is not the level you’re able to have on a newspaper site or one of our sites. Our smaller blogs have 2 million unique (visitors per month). … It’s hard to have that intimacy.”
So, what’s the solution?
Well, for starters, when one is attempting to come up with a solution, one might first try identifying and isolating the problem, which starts with naming the agent: who is leaving these “toxic, off-topic” comments, and what are they saying exactly? I don’t know how crybaby-pants Mr. Gawker is, but one senses that he’s not talking about being Rickrolled, or having to wade through thousands of recipes for jell-o salad when he intimates that the comments are so overwhelmingly poisonous, and have nothing to do with anything, that they make his brain bleed and his immortal soul weep for humanity.
But women who are active online know exactly what he’s talking about, and it’s men, leaving comments advocating baby-raping and shooting hot loads into women who are bred for sexual slavery and men with usernames like NiggerJew944 and SchrodingersRapist who leave comments all around the internet that are specifically designed to intimidate and harass women, (and politically-important minorities too! but mostly women, and minority women) by referencing unwanted PIV (aka. rape) and advocating and graphically describing kinda-rape as well as rape-rape and sexualized racism and girl-child abuse and porn, with the intent that women be driven off the internet so that the men can take it back. And no, I’m not linking to those comments, even though they were real comments I accidentally read recently, because I don’t have to document that this happened; everyone knows that these kinds of comments are out there, because they are literally everywhere. You can’t not go online, and read the comments section of any mainstream publication and see them for yourself.
Is this the kind of stuff Mr. Sensitive was talking about? The almost (almost!) unimaginably vile, woman-hating comments that may (or many not) trigger his gag-reflex, but that specifically do not trigger anything very deeply inside his psyche, or evoke anything in particular that he can actually put his finger on, except to be almost criminally vague about them being icky and not particularly appealing to his overdeveloped academented brain, because they aren’t directed at him and aren’t intended to speak to him in any particular way. And in fact, these misogynistic screeds and triggering jabs actually support his male power, and all men’s power, where men bond and network over misogyny and benefit by keeping women cowering in fear or at least past our mental-hip boots in woman-hating slime when we go online, because the internet is writing and women’s writing has always, always been suppressed and obliterated by men, and this is a deliberate and effective tool of male supremacy and women’s oppression by men.
If Denton were ever to actually name the agent of harm here, he would have to admit that it’s men supporting male power who are making the internet a hateful, nauseating place, and then he would have to seriously think about what that means. If he still wanted to combat it, and of course he wouldn’t at that point, because it would undermine his own power to do so, but assuming he did, the only real solution to the problem of maleness on the internet would be to eliminate male voices on the internet. In other words, create woman-only spaces, and particularly pro-radical-feminist spaces, where women were free to go to the ends of our thoughts and where our online discussions are interesting, rich, deep and fun (and hilarious!) and where we aren’t constantly experiencing (deliberate or unintentional) reading comprehension fails and veering off-topic and being “toxic” because that’s generally not how we roll, because (among other things) we have limited time and energy and yet are deeply invested in discussing the issues that affect us, and we are the only ones who would gain more than we lost if the horrifying and destructive forces of patriarchy, and all its manifestations were corrected, now.
Denton isn’t likely to ever create that kind of space, or to do so anytime soon, but radical feminists are creating these spaces, and they are wonderful. So yeah, Captain Obvious, the discussions on your blogs and websites suck, and are swirling cesspools of toxic maleness, but stop pretending it’s not exactly what you want, and exactly what you need. And stop pretending that you aren’t laughing about it, all the way to the bank, your allegedly offended and withering “intellect” notwithstanding.
Image from here. Also doesn’t specifically address off-topic, toxic misogyny, but we all know it’s the biggest piece of the pie.