Why We’re All Doomed

Media, World

Nobody likes to be caught in a storm – but yesterday, it was as much to do with the storm of comments that followed online articles about Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy that provided the unwelcome blizzard. As the torrential rains hit New York, the deskbound classes went into overdrive. The result provides proof of why our world is not fit for purpose, if further proof were needed; we’re just not up to the job.

After a couple of vaguely silly but not particularly callous remarks posted by what I assume to be teenagers on one of their very many school holidays, the comments page of the Guardian’s main news article splintered into disarray like a town meeting held to discuss a new motorway.

The comment thread loosely ran like this;

Our thoughts go out to all those caught in the storm.
It’s only a storm, we’ve had worse.
Bad taste joke (removed by administrator).
Indignant remarks along the lines of ‘Try telling that to the people who died’.
Anger at coverage of fifteen American deaths when hundreds die in the Philippines from storms.
Wooly remark that we should have compass for everyone who dies in a storm.
Even woolier remark about having compassion for everyone, everywhere.
Blame-thread full of ill-concealed schadenfreude; ‘Global warming deniers are getting exactly what they deserve.’
Climate-deniers’ denials; ‘This is just a storm.’
Weird emails blaming Obama.
Back to top, start all over again.

I do find it shocking just how many remarks were removed, though – isn’t this meant to be about free speech, no matter how illogical and rude they get?

Meanwhile, over at the Daily Mail website, comments were unsurprisingly far more heated and deranged, including ‘Save the pets first!’, ‘America, you are killing the planet one baby at a time’, ‘GOD has given you a wakeup call’, and my personal favourite, ‘I’m not interested in what’s happening in other countries’. There’s a disclaimer at the foot of the page saying that these views are not necessarily those held by the Daily Mail, except that you kind of know they are. Click to enlarge the madness…

9 comments on “Why We’re All Doomed”

  1. Ford says:

    You should have a look at the comments in the Bournemouth Echo (http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/)These people should be locked up – maybe they are. They start off with comments about the “news report” ; rubbishing the reporting ; rubbishing the Council (or any other officials); then, they start argueing with; and, abusing ith each other. I’m sure that it’s the small in all “news” outlets – an opportunity for the hard of thinking to share their lack of wit, intelligence and understanding! Oh! Dear! I think that I’m doing it now! It the olden days of proper print, local newspapers, these kinds of comments/letters were allegedly, often, written in green ink!! You know the sort of thing “Has anyone else noticed that the murder rate hs increased, as the use of the teacup has declined?”

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    We were just south of this storm by enough to keep our lights and trees and property. It is strange though to hear the wind tearing itself on the gutters, see a willow tree trying to break dance, the bay window glass shimmy like an earth quake passing under, and watch New York City torn and flooded and people on their roofs ala New Orleans.
    And not all Americans are naysayers when it comes to global warming. (I marched in the first Earth Day parade through Washington.) We have more than our share of crackpots – follow our current election – yes and indeed. But as you say the piffle on the PC is such a waste of energy and type-tapping power.
    I’d like to suggest anyone interested should read Kim Stanley Robinson’s trio of novels about climate change: Overall title being “Science in the Capital”. The city in the three is Washington, D.C. not New Orleans or New York City.

  3. FabienneT says:

    *despair*
    This is why I’ve learned to never, EVER read the comments on news websites (oh and YouTube too, it is full of nutters). Our local newspaper comment thread is full of people who hate culture and rant if any article relates to anything remotely arty/literary/cultural i.e interesting. Reading comment threads always makes me want to DESTROY THE PLANET.

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    So, Fabienne, I’m not alone in believing such blogs are more frightening than a bad case of Holloween. The New York Times’ blogs are closely watched and usually have good comments, even if you don’t agree, but the Washington Post has a lot of people who seem to just sit on telephones lines by the road watching; ready to swoop down to pick and rant.

  5. Steve says:

    It’s like a train wreck; hard to look away. “Horrified fascination” is the way I’d describe it.
    By far the biggest boatload of crazy I’ve found is the CNN Belief blog. Admin is right of course; no matter how insane or evil, people have a right to express their opinions.

  6. snowy says:

    I can’t speak about all the examples above. However, with the decline in sales of print copies, ‘news’papers are resorting to a number of tactics to drive page views, for which they derive income from adverts.

    One, the name of which I forget, is to run the same content under two different headlines, on different pages, one broadly ‘pro’ and one broadly ‘anti’. That way they can mop up the maximum number of page views.

    My grandparents told me ‘newspapers’ could only be relied on for two things, yesterday’s sport results, and a use I won’t describe, but it involved, scissors, a piece of ‘hairy string’ and a hook in the ‘smallest room’. Well it was better than ‘Izal’.

  7. Helen Martin says:

    I’ve read newspaper articles on line and thought that was it unless I happen to swoop below and find columns of comment. I am newsPAPER orientated so finding these posts entered as if they were part of reasonable discussion is startling. I also prefer the papers’ classic rule of printing people’s comments only under the writer’s name, unless there is a risk to the writer to be good. Perhaps there would be less insanity if people were present as themselves. Just saying.

  8. Helen Martin says:

    Excuse me, can’t listen & write at the same time: “classic rule of printing people’s comments only under their proper names unless there is a risk to the writer’s safety or some other good reason.”

  9. Alan G says:

    I rather liked ITV2 (a British broadcast) and their showing of “Evan Almighty” on the evening. Either a major oops or simple bad taste?

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