Banned! Article: Get off my Internet

Whilst my own online social activities (arguing on message-boards) have diminished to nothing, I still read many sites and observe comments and responses posted by readers.

Following big announcements, such as the type made at annual shows, there tend to be plenty of extra-sensationalist news articles produced that tend to elicit a more intense type of response than normal. In part, these responses are provoked by the presentation of the article. Making comments and refreshing a page all counts towards pages hits and advertising exposure for the site. It’s not in the site’s interest to have people just calmly acknowledge what was written, after all.

Things can get to a point where conflicting views result in a call to have someone banned from posting or for there be some other means to suppress the disagreeable opinions of a poster.

The internet is an amazing place. It gives everyone a voice. People practice this freely (as I am doing now) as is their right. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right, in my opinion, and so it makes no sense to practice ones freedom of speech by dictating who else may or may not speak. It demonstrates insularity and narrow-mindedness that someone is so wrapped up in having their own voice acknowledged that they feel justified in silencing others to do so. Nobody likes a loudmouth – especially one with double standards.

Or to put it into game terms: if you can only win by cheating the rules, you’re just showing you lack the skills to take part. Maybe this game isn’t for you.

In my experience when issues arise where one person experiences difficulties stemming from the behaviour of others there tend to be two approaches to take:

  • Petition to others that their behaviour be modified to suit you whilst you continue to behave as you normally do.
  • Modify your own behaviour to accommodate the circumstances of the issue.

In short: there’s things you can reasonably control and there’s things you can’t.

Now, the forms those two options take may be many and varied. For example, you can expect other road users to get out of your way, responding to your aggressive driving and beeping your car horn or you could start your journey earlier so that their behaviour won’t impact on you quite so heavily.

If you find the online community of those around you to be too ignorant, biased and narrow-minded you can argue your superior knowledge with them or you can leave them to their own devices. That one can take a while to sink in!

The mature response to those that consistently say things you don’t like the sound of is to simply ignore them.

Ignoring things is easy on the internet. You just don’t read whatever it is you want to ignore. Or, if you’re particularly disciplined, you’ll scroll the offending text off the screen or maybe even cease to visit the page the text is on. All methods that are simple to grasp and execute without calling upon anyone to make some sort of change on your behalf.

Expecting gamers, shielded by anonymity, throwing personal insults and making threats to take this pro-active approach to this is, of course, totally unrealistic. Remember, we’re talking about a culture that expects to be handed absolutely everything on a plate, doesn’t actually know what they want but will complain that they don’t get it and persistently present themselves as victims of corporate greed.

Really, how on earth could they possibly be expected to scroll past some text on a screen?

Such lack of discipline is exemplified by a variety of sites that allow comments to be graded by others. Some sites even go as far as hiding comments that have been graded especially poorly by other site members. I don’t recall ever seeing one of these systems requiring voters to make themselves known or to justify their grading of others.

So, what you naturally get is a corruption of democracy. Get enough people to vote a comment down and you get it hidden. Demonstrating a mistaken belief in that dismissing a point is the same as disproving it.

Unpopular views, views that go against what people may wish to hear, are not necessarily invalid views. Were that the case then we’d all still be talking about the earth being flat and burning witches.

In my past I’ve belonged to online and also managed online communities and made many comments online. I’ve clashed with more people than I can possibly remember and, without question, I have always been right. Always! Others have not always appreciated this fact but, showing mercy and benevolence, I have never called upon others to have these people removed from my presence. Sometimes it has been better to educate them or let them dig a hole for themselves so that their inadequacies are more clearly broadcast to others. In some cases I simply move on.

I read some sites with increasing amusement, witnessing people’s inability to control their own behaviour whilst demanding changes be instated to control the behaviour of others. I don’t think this is a good solution to an issue. In case you find yourself disagreeing with me, I’ve installed such a function to help you. If you look at the very top-right of your window you’ll find an ignore button installed, marked by an “X” in a square. Click on it whenever you think I should go away and I’ll be happy to oblige.

Aren’t I nice?

2 thoughts on “Get off my Internet!”
  1. Haha! Just had an incredibly similar problem with TGN where if you post something somebody disagrees with; they can give you negative reputation points rather than posting back and creating a debate. It boggles my mind just how against the idea of a forum this is, it’s also incredibly lazy and a bit cowardly.

    It supports the common opinion, they had a vote whether to change it and because it fundamentally supports the majority of posters – the result was that it should (unsurprisingly) stay. Plus I was up against the mod/admin so I expect the colour of their noses to a slightly darker shade of brown.

    So after I returned from watching England, I left and it was the best drunken decision of my life!

    Honestly what’s the point of a forum where showing a different opinion is discouraged?

  2. Well, quite.

    I can empathise with your recent experience, Retroid – as I’m sure you can appreciate.

    The legendary Miskie once summed things up very nicely: Forums are not a democracy, they are a dictatorship. Ultimately, the clashes of the nature you describe tend to come from trying to fit that square democratic peg into the forum’s round dictatorial hole. A lot of grief, it seems, stems from people’s assumptions about how something is meant to operate versus how it actually operates.

    In your comment you demonstrate the harder option of changing your own behaviour than expecting the behaviour of those around you to be changed. It can be harder than it sounds!

    It’s for these reasons that I set up alternative communities that I had a genuine say in how they were run rather than hoping my suggestions might be heard. Even then, things can go quite .. Animal Farm.

    I wonder if I should set up a forum on this site? 🙂

    As for your closing comment. In my opinion, people on forums don’t always want to discuss a topic. They prefer to have their opinions validated by others. This, I think, tends to go hand-in-hand with the maturity of the members of the community.

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