It’s been a rough week.
As I started trying to compose this week’s post, I knew wanted to talk about comments. I wanted to use this story as a lead-in to my conversation: The Real Problem with Sex Workers in Video Games. I wanted to talk about women’s voices and how this article’s comments start with “Oh man, I’m getting out of here. I can’t deal with the inevitable comments here today.” and “This comment section is about to go to Hell in a handbasket.”
I should say, I read comments. A lot. I’m sort of ashamed of this because I feel I’m not “supposed” to read comments because they are harmful or whatever. But, I do read comments. I read them all the time because I want to see what the other side of the story is; I want to see the spectrum of the argument. I read the comments in the article referenced above. I read the ones that were short and snarky, and I read the ones that respectfully disagreed with the author, Yannick Lejacq, and those that respectfully disagreed with what the subject of the article, Anita Sarkeesian, had to say about tropes vs women in games (particularly, in this article, about “Sex Workers in Video Games”). I read comments all the time, and I wanted to talk about comments and what they mean to me, and how they illuminate our culture. I wanted to talk about how people should listen to women, really listen, before they comment on feminism, before they speak about what women should do or feel.
But, this week CNN turned their comments off for many articles, and I find it difficult/impossible to talk about comments without addressing why CNN made that decision.
CNN’s comment section got really ugly in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s passing. Like many, I find myself totally heartbroken by the situation in Ferguson. Like many white people, I find myself somewhat paralyzed. Articles, like “12 Things White People Can Do Now Because Ferguson” help me think about what I should be doing. But, I know I can’t do enough. I can’t do anything, really. All I can really do is listen. But, I don’t want to just listen to the media or to a biased source. I want to listen. CNN turned off the comments because, I assume, they were too inflammatory, too racist. They were too racist. I was appalled by many of the comments. But, as a confirmed comment junky, I sort of want them back. Not because I enjoy reading the horrible comments, but because I want to know. I need to know exactly what the other opinions I (we) are dealing with. I guess it says something about our culture that we can’t even talk about the situation without it turning ugly. But, what I saw, was similar to what I wrote about in a previous post: people who are so sure their worldview is the correct one that they can’t see past it.
This week, I wanted to talk about comments: the good, bad, and ugly side of comments. I wanted to talk about how quick people are to throw “other” opinions out the window. But, another teenager is dead, and the comments on one website (CNN) got so bad that they had to shut the comments down. I want comments because I want a reasoned debate where I can learn all sides of the situation. But, comments (on the internet) can get really, really ugly, as I’m sure we all know. And, this week, I’m stuck because the conversation about Ferguson is so important. And, I find myself wondering how bad comments really are. Was CNN right to turn them off? Probably, but how else to we have the conversation?