Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oh, The People You'll Meet!

My first exposure to the internet was back in 1996 when my husband and my son bought me a WebTV* unit for Christmas.  I didn't have much of an idea of what the internet really was, but I was excited.  I had seen an advertisment for WebTV and it looked like a lot of fun.

One of the first things I learned about were bulletin boards (an early version of forums).  WebTV had a feature that allowed you to choose your interests and then it would display a list of bulletin boards you might like.  Under the entertainment category, I found a bulletin board for M*A*S*H.  I've always loved the show, and when I found out Larry Gelbart, one of the shows writer/producers was a contributing member of the board, I decided to check it out.

At first, all I did was read the posts.  I was nervous about posting any questions or comments of my own, but when I saw that Larry was answering questions, I got up my nerve and posted one.  He didn't answer right away but another member of the board did.  At that time your user name ended with the system you were using (i.e. willoughby@webtv) and when this guy saw that I was on WebTV, he lit into me.  He said the only people on the internet that were stupider (his word) than AOL users were WebTV users.  He went on to blame me for the dumbing down of the internet.  I couldn't believe it.  All I had done was ask a question about the set they used for filming M*A*S*H.  

It didn't take long to find out that it wasn't just the M*A*S*H board that attracted nasty people.  The cooking bulletin board was just as bad.  I chimed in on a conversation about how long unrefrigerated food was safe to eat and two people ganged up to tell me how stupid I was.  I had said that it was risky to eat cooked chicken that had been unrefrigerated all day (picnics).  These two said that people in third world countries ate unrefrigerated cooked food all the time without getting sick.  According to them, people like me were the cause of all the anti-biotic resistant bacterial strains because we are overly hygienic and paranoid.

Since then, I've graduated to a high speed internet connection and laptop computer, but I still run into the same sort of nastiness all the time.  I've been told that I (and everyone else who lives in Michigan) must be living under a rock if we still call carbonated beverages "pop" instead of "soda" and that we should learn to speak english here.  A man who bought one of our ebay items told me I must not understand the US banking system if I refused to accept his personal check and that I should move to the European Union and stop selling on ebay.  I could go on and on.

I see it on forums, blog comments and anywhere else readers can leave opinions.  Don't believe me?  Go to any cooking forum and profess your love for canned creamed soups, White Zinfandel or Velveeta.  They'll be on you like vultures.  Or try a fitness and nutrition website and admit you allow your family to consume products with high fructose corn syrup.  I've seen people accused of poisoning their children for making such statements.  Don't even get me started on the comments I've seen on politics, religion or birth control.

I have no problem ignoring it, but I still don't understand what causes people to behave that way.  Is it really that important for them to have complete strangers agree with them?  I can have an opinion without the need to express it to other people if it's going to cause a confrontation, why can't they?  I wonder, too, if people in their real lives know the sort of things they post online.  Probably not.

I would rather have a pleasant conversation than an argument.  I would also rather say something positive than something negative.  Everyone knows what it feels like to get a compliment.  A few nice words can truly make your day.  It takes no more energy to bring someone up than to bring them down and it doesn't diminish your achievements to acknowledge the achievements of another.  But that's just my opinion.

How do you feel about negative internet users?  Have you had any bad experiences?

*WebTV gave you access to the internet on your television through a dial-up phone connection.


Willoughby

24 comments:

Lissaloo said...

I guess that's a big reason why I quit using the AR forum, I don't like hearing, seeing or reading peoples nasty comments. Which considering the good friends I have made through there I may someday rethink but for now I just avoid it.
There was a blog I followed for a while that lit in to something a couple of her commenters said that she didn't agree with, it was a very rude and completely uncalled for post. This happened on her blog 3 different times and I quit following her blog.
I don't like being around negativity, I prefer to enjoy life, which is one of the reasons I enjoy your blog. You have a wonderful way with words :)

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

I think it's much easier for people to say such things when sitting behind a computer and not in person. Everyone has opinions, and I'm all for a good discussion, but putting people down is so unnecessary. I have almost given up on AllRecipes because of all the OT posts and bickering.

thamesarino said...

I have to agree with Lissa and Tatts. I think it's kind of sad that the whole reason that I really found out about blogging, or started my own at any rate was because of a place where I can't go anymore! I rarely visit AR except in some kind of culinary emergency... : )
I'm not sure why the anonymity of the internet lends people to be so harsh and downright cruel... but it IS everywhere.
It is probably one reason that I don't go out there and actively try to find myself more followers.. you never know what you'll find! : )
(besides the ones I have are all sweet and kind people... I don't mind if there's not alot of them!! )

L.B. said...

There are a lot of vultures on the internet. I really don't know why places have to be so vicious, but they are just that way. Most message boards are like that, AR is no exception. I thought it was different, and while it's not downright nasty like some other places, there's negativity on there as there is everywhere else.

There are a lot of internet tough guys (and gals) who have no problem telling you how effing stupid you are but would not have the testicular fortitude to say that crap to you in person. I speak from experience.

I can take criticism and opposing viewpoints but I dislike the negativity and hostility that often accompanies that garbage.

That's why I like blogging so much. I figure my followers aren't going to lay into me even if they disagree with me (as long as I don't post something utterly ridiculously negative or something else out of character) or don't care for what I have to say. It's a somewhat calm environment and I like to interact with my followers there. For instance, no one has told me "you're stupid for running a marathon" even if they've thought it.

ChristineM said...

Yes, there are all kinds out there! It bothers me that people can be so hateful though - no need to call anyone stupid or worse. Most of those people would never think of talking that way to someone's face, so they do definitely hide behind their computers, lurking like vultures, waiting for some unsuspecting victim. I even stopped reading our local newspaper online because of all the weirdos posting ridiculous comments. I can't tell you how many times I typed something then just deleted it! You WANT to respond with some sense of reason, but the lunatic is just sitting there looking for more fuel to add to his/her fire, so it's best just to ignore. Or if it gets personal, just maintain your dignity with a simple "I know you are, but what am I?" ;)

The other thing you see, aside from out-and-out nastiness, is a lot of misunderstandings...the typed word doesn't always pick up on sarcasm or jest, and throw in a few typos and next thing you know it's a cyber World War III!

Tracie said...

I try to ignore the nasty stuff I see out there. I've only had a couple of hateful comments on my blog. (By the same person.) If I can't say something nice in a comment I don't say anything at all. That's just how I roll.

Matty said...

A lot of people are very intolerant of views that don't mirror their own. As such, they react by attacking. It goes for any topic issue out there. And it's a shame that they do.

I pride myself in being able to voice my opinion, when it differs from yours, without making it a personal attack or suggesting that you are an idiot or the stupid one. After all, it's just that, an opinion.

Chicago Mom said...

From what you are all saying I guess that I am fortunate that no one has ever left me a nasty message on my blog! I go to AR and read a couple of blogs there, but I have never participated in the forums. And I won't be checking them out now either.
I can't believe people can be so rude! I was taught that if you can't say anything nice you don't say anything at all.
I agree with ChristineM that it can be hard to tell if someone is joking or being sarcastic with the written word. Adding a smiley face :) or using LOL can help, but if I am not sure how someone will take my comment I'd just as soon not leave one.
What is wrong with people today?! I also agree with L.B. that 99% of these people wouldn't say these things to your face. I don't know if that is better or worse. Ugh.
Lastly, I agree with thamesarino; I'd rather have a small number of nice followers, than 500 followers and the occasional nasty comment.

Holly said...

I am amazed at the things people will do when safely hidden behind their computers.

I have my beliefs and view points on pretty much everything, but I am completely understanding that my idea/opinion is not everyone's and I accept that. I do not try to change people's perceptions. I just do not understand people like this...they are angry it all I suppose.

I have not really had any bad run-ins yet (knock on wood)...just sill criticisms...someone was appalled that I mixed up my place settings and had the knife pointing the wrong way in one of my Tablescapes. Some people are just looking for conflict or fault.

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

wow..well said..i have a friend who is a REALLY REALLY great writer...and he had a REALLY REALLY great blog....a blog in writers world...serious writers...nothing light and breezy..and he stated an opinion...and he actually was scared for his life..really scared...the blog has long since been deleted..for good...says he'll never do it again..and it makes me sad...he is so clever and witty and such a great guy...and some mean spirited person took it all away...ane person to spoil it for so many...

I agree with the above comment..some people are just looking for conflict...i too have been lucky..maybe it's the type of blogs that we have/are interested in... i don't know....

i really enjoyed reading this..all true...

now on to cast iron skillets...hows that for a switch...

yes, i would use the ones you have as is....maybe just wipe them out with a little oil on a paper towel...
let me know what you make in it...

more later

kary
xxx

5thsister said...

funny how my best blogging friends are those I originally found on the "exchange"!

Great topic, Su.

Jenn Erickson said...

I've been fortunate not to have had too many negative experiences, but I know that those nasty people are out there just looking for trouble. Seems that one may miserable people soothe themselves is by being mean to other people. The internet is a boon for them, because it provides them anonymity to unleash their negativity and wrath. Such a shame. I agree, it's far better to be positive, kind, and have intelligent conversations.

dave hambidge said...

Bimbled here from lisleman, aka a few clowns short. You are sdaly so right. I have bailled out thrice from chatrooms when they went toxic and venomous. Some folk get their kicks in strange ways?

Cameron said...

I'm with you. I don't see value in the confrontational types or those who are so boohoo negative I think they lash out online bc they are unhappy in their life, I ignore that b.s.

I love your blog, and think it is fabulous :)
have a wonderful weekend!
Cameron
www.conquerthemonkey.com

Joanna Jenkins said...

Jeez, what's wrong with people? I am not a fan of calling out people on a blog or a board if I disagree with them. But sadly, there are a lot of "haters" out there who seem to enjoy puffing themselves up telling other people there business.

Then there are the blogs specifically FOR haters! the "Poop" blog is an example. Why on earth would anyone want to start a hater blog let alone spend time posting hateful comments. I boggles my mind.

Anyway, I'm with you. Can't we all jsut get along-- or BE QUIET!

Sorry you had such a nasty experience Willoughby. And for the record, I STILL call it "pop" and I've lived all over the country.

xo

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Well said~W. There are some people who like to make the feathers sparks. I try to ignore them.
Have a great weekend!
Betty xx

Kimberly said...

I am sorry that people think they have some sort of right to be cruel to others. Why? I just don't get it.

Move on darling. You have lots of people that really like what you have to say and comment with a positive things to say.

God Bless!

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Just wanted to pass by and say Hi!
Hope your day is a good one so far!
Betty xx

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

....yorkshire pudding is really good...but what has my interest is that pretzel bread....

have you ever posted the recipe? did i miss it...

have a restful Sunday...

kary
xxx

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Wow, Willoughby, you have some tough skin...the one time I encountered a rabid online entity I didn't post anything anywhere but my own blog for probably a year....seems silly now but the comment concerned something about which I was very sensitive!

I agree with Holly--some people are incredibly rude when they can hide behind their computers. But they are also more open in good ways, too. I think the anonymity of the internet probably intensifies personality traits that are already there.

Interesting post!

Dean C said...

Your welcome.

Graceful said...

This is interesting -- but I have to say...have I been just lucky that I haven't run into much negativity or nastiness in the blog world? Should I knock on wood? I'm sort of afraid of the inevitable horrible comment...but I'll keep putting it out there!

Thanks for your sweet comment about my guest post on Jumping Tandem today!

SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB said...

i had a bad case of the nasties when God forbid I wrote something positive about Kate Gosselin.

the only stupid people on the internet are the ones who have nothing but hate and filth to spew to virtual strangers

and i love you - there's your compliment of the day

you're welcome

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

i'm wondering if i have my head in the clouds on the chickens...centennial kinda scared me...

maybe it isn't such a good idea..

there is a man here around the corner that has 3 brown ones..that's what kinda got me going...

hmmmmm

more later, my friend
kary