“It is very rare that I hate someone as much as I do Adam. However I am sure he is a very nice racist man. If you ever find yourself in Vegas Adam stop by BIGGY's BURGER SHACK and I will fix you up a real nice bowl of Dick soup.
Oh and E3 2003 I am the one that threw the T-shirt at your face and me and the crew were screaming SUCK IT SESSMASTER as loud as we could. Fun times I still wish Tina Wood had your job.”
-- From the comments section of the Dante’s Inferno review, posted by GreedyMcNasty
There’s something about (what I assume is) a grown man having so much contempt for me that an incident where I was apparently assaulted by a cotton t-shirt should stand out in this individual’s mind for the past seven years. And enough so that it appears to this day he wants to rape me, but not enough so that he’ll take the effort to find me…I need to make myself available to him.
I remember that E3: I met Robin Williams, we first learned that Paul Allen was soliciting offers from companies to take TechTV off his hands, and Dave Perry waved happily at me, despite the thorough drubbing we had just given his Matrix game. I bet I smiled more.
The modern era of media has mandated that repositories of information must concede their passive authority of objectivity, which has held true for the past few centuries, to a more fluid setting where additional content is blindly solicited. The initial work is now an organic entity continually shaped and contextualized with corroborations, refutations, misinterpretations, personal agendas and declarations of intellectual superiority based upon a singular experience. Somehow that original piece is insufficient. Schopenhauer, never a friend of the democratically-minded, may have finally elicited my sympathies.
Griping about decorum on the Internet is about as useful as asking Margaret Thatcher to stop smelling like sulfur. Less discussed is the complicity of media outlets in bringing about this wonderful state of affairs. Opening up opinion writing on the Internet into a two-way discourse has transformed the art of reasoned thought into sport. While engendering a sense of belonging to help facilitate future pageviews may have been the initial motivation behind, “Leave a comment for Adam :),” the pernicious result is in the skewing of a sense of “audience” or “readership” into only those impassioned enough to post, and then emboldening that minority into having a role in the shaping of future content (please see all recent requests to “fire Abbie Heppe” or “turn Feedback into a television show”). While I can only speak for myself, this phantom “audience” does begin to affect future writing. I have written reviews which indulge in argumentative contortionism in anticipation of the response (RE5), editorials which heighten the rhetoric to elicit strong reactions (Killzone 2 Soapbox), and reliably spend the day with review, Soapbox, or Feedback posts reading the comments section, compulsively refreshing, looking for the elusive satisfaction of having had enough of an impact on some anonymous individual to make the effort worthwhile as my existence was recognized. The writer-commentor relationship is nothing more than a digital glory-hole of discourse in a solipsistic coffee-house made of nightmares.
This call-and-response mentality is only further abated by the need to simplify the moments of controversy and expedite the inflammation. Numerical scores, over-simplified pros/cons and headlines all help focus the theatrics at the bottom of the page which can be counted on with Pavlovian certainty. Whatever therapy it affords, we seem to need it and there’s little to indicate it will be changing anytime soon. We all have something to prove and we’re all proving it at the same time. Reading the comments for not just the Dante’s review but just about every other one on the site can be like peering into the cacophonous abyss of linearity: Established truths must endure, contrary is heresy, individualism is sedition.
I have to say, it’s hard for me at times to know that I’m part of the problem.
If you need me, I’ll be slurping some dick over at Biggy’s.