Why Hate Speech Flourishes on the Internet
I have seen a disturbing trend for many years now on the way people hide behind the internet and make sick, hateful comments written on the top news storied posted on the internet. People that think they can hide through the anonymity of the internet suddenly feel empowered to say things they would never say in public. Being faceless gives them courage.
For this article I'm going to concentrate on just one website, the news section of Yahoo though this is certainly not the only site where people leave stomach churning comments.
Those of you that have never read comments left by people on the Yahoo news story section should just take a few minutes to do so. Sometimes I'm ashamed to be part of the human race because of the insensitive, hateful speech left there.
Take any news story on yahoo and you will see what I mean. Years ago I ran a website called “iwannabeayahoo” where I would post comments that seemed posted by clueless, illiterate individuals. These postings were actually so bad that they were funny. After a year I folded the website because it just became too depressing reading these comments day after day. Let me explain.
As an example take the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. I found comments that were sicking. Some writers posted that they were glad the children died because they were weak. Others posted that the teachers were not heroes because they didn't have guns.
Of course these disgusting remarks were driven by different agendas such as calling those of different political parties crude names and placing the blame specifically on the party they dislike.
Comments left by people such as these roughly break down into three categories:
- Shock Value
The religion category I find to be very anti-Semitic that blame the Jews for almost any unfortunate event. The political category has radicals on both sides, conservative and liberal that blame the other party no matter the connection to any story, and finally the shock value comments which are the most senseless. People that post these outrageous comments know they are insensitive and hateful but post them anyways just to shock people.
The ones that post the most hateful comments also seem to be the ones that do this as a full time hobby. If you click on their names you will see they have posted thousands of comments in the same vein on any top news story.
Some of these people post comments with unabashed hate with no pretext of being subtle while others are more subtle and pretend to be part of one group such as a specific religion or political group then post outrageous comments that would make anyone hate that group.
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I'm disgusted by these types of people but the ones I despise the most, with a certain type of pity, are those that post and leave comments for no other reason then just to shock people.
I see these type of people as lonely, bitter souls that crave attention. I hink many of these people have mental issues and possibly sit around all day drinking a beer and posting hundreds of these comments a week. On yahoo readers can give a comment a thumbs up or a thumbs down. I really believe that to these people hundreds of thumbs down is a badge of honor to them and gain the attention, no matter how vile, they crave.
I think these type of individuals are the same as those that want to be known, want the same attention, that drives people to commit horrific crimes just for the sake of having their 15 minutes of fame.
The difference between these people that are faceless and hide behind the internet and those that cause pain through senseless mass shootings are the methods they use. Both cause pain to the victims and the average persons sensibilities, one through psychical actions and the other mental pain and anguish through the power of the pen.
I think many of those that write hateful and disgusting comments would never do so in a public forum or to an individuals face but never the less have a black smudge deep in their souls where hate festers. How else can we explain that in the face of a tragic news story they are glad little kids died or state they are happy because the family that was killed in a house fire had a different color of skin?
I'm afraid these type of outrageous comments are the norm on public forums such as yahoo. The internet has given anyone with a keyboard the ability to take a podium and announce a message to shock thousands of people.
For a moment these individuals in their tiny way are making people feel something, doesn’t matter if the feeling they create is of hate and revulsion but just the fact they are making a difference in someone's lives gives them a rush (In a way they can't make the people in their own lives feel anything or make to make a difference to them).
I'm not naive, there has always been senseless hate but the way this hate is being expressed is new. I can't explain it but to say society is broken. How else to explain these mass shootings? Back years ago anyone could get a gun with no background checks and could get one through the mail. Even with the ease of buying a weapon back then mass shootings were unheard of.
I had to chuckle the other day when I watched an old episode of Adam-12 on TV. There was a small boy outside at recess using a pocket knife to whittle a piece of wood when the officers came up to talk to him about a unrelated matter The knife wasn't an issue at all. Nowadays if you would pull a knife out at a school the SWAT team would be called in.
Maybe we as a society valued life more back when guns were more available. I think the comments left by these idiots on sites such as Yahoo are a microcosm of what we have become. Is this what they call progress? I'm afraid I fear for our future.