3 Internet Pet Peeves I Learned Today
Yesterday I wrote an article in which I questioned the kid-friendliness of a specific portion of the halftime show. I wasn’t trying to be controversial–rather, it was a matter of me experiencing something I rarely think about (I don’t have kids), expressing an opinion, and asking for other perspectives.
The article generated quite a bit of conversation in the comments and on Twitter. A lot of it was productive and insightful, but there were 3 types of comments that were incredibly offputting (whether or not the person thought the halftime show wasn’t kid friendly).
It was a lesson for me to read these comments, both in terms of who I want to be as a person when discussing topics and the types of people I want to engage with online. Here are the 3 internet pet peeves I learned today:
- Country-specific racism. I’m sure there’s a better term for this, but I don’t know what it is. Basically, there were several comments from people that said things like “You Americans think about X the wrong way” or “Americans care about X but not Y.” Woah there. Lumping 300 million people into a single mindset is incredibly offensive, just as it would be offensive if you said all people of a certain race/age/ethnicity think and do things the same way.
- WhatAbout-ism. Quite a few comments were along the lines of, “You care about kids watching sexy dancing, but not about gun control, beer commercials, or concussions in the NFL?!” Woah there. My article was about the halftime show. That’s the topic on the table. It doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about other topics–they just don’t happen to be the topics I’m currently discussing. This is classic WhatAbout-ism, which John Oliver explains in this short clip.
- Accusations of Shaming. This was probably the most common statement, whether it was directed at me or at the internet as a whole (it seemed like a lot of people were replying to the headline and didn’t actually read my post). The basic idea expressed in these comments was that I/we shouldn’t shame X (X ranged from the halftime show, Jennifer Lopez, sexy dancing, sex itself, etc). I found it really hard to engage with anyone who posted this type of comment, because my post actually celebrated most of the performance (I even wrote “I don’t think there was anything inherently wrong about Lopez’ performance”). Using “shame” as a weapon in conversation tends to end any constructive discourse.
Anyway, it was an interesting day to be on the internet! Hopefully I haven’t been a perpetrator of these pet peeves myself, but it’s likely that I have, so now I can be more aware of them and be a better person tomorrow.