It’s because of Internet comments.
When Gawker first posted links to individual stories, mocking writers for Thought Catalog, I felt confused. How does it benefit them to make fun of TC? Do the two sites’ audiences even converge that much? What do they have to do with each other? The post was followed by a bunch of comment-ers taking intense pleasure in destroying, line-by-line, the work of, in particular, Thought Catalog editor Ryan O’Connell.
The only thing I could think, over and over, while reading the stream of mean comments was ‘I don’t know any of these people’s names or what they contribute to the world, but I know Ryan O’Connell’s name.’
I don’t know their names, but I know his name. I’ve said this before: I’d rather be the person being talked about than be someone doing the talking.
And all of them are just a flock of people taking delight in semi-anonymously, on a website they neither edit nor contribute to, talking shit about one person who put himself out there by name.
The whole idea is driving me crazy. What motivates them?
This isn’t about Ryan though. Or Brandon Gorrell, who received similar treatment in a later post.
It’s bullying and I don’t understand - can’t understand - why we do this to each other as humans and creators. But there’s more!
So now I can’t hate anything. I am kind of free.
A few days after the post, I saw my friend Brent at a bar. Brent is a comic who just started making a Youtube web series. We talked about his entrance into the world of online feedback. His videos are comedy, but from some of the comments on them, you would think Brent had gone to these people’s homes in the night and murdered their pets. The rage is incongruous with the creation it’s directed at.
I told Brent: “I can’t hate anything anymore. I love everything I see and everything I read, because I can’t think about it as a thing on its own anymore. I only think about that person who wrote it/created it and how their mother loves them and how hard they worked on it and how they just want to live their life and I just…Right now, I look at something online and I believe everyone is doing the best they can.”
For example, at Gawker, there sits a college graduate with their first job out of liberal arts school who just wants to get paid to write. They want respect and they want power and they want fame in the blogging world and they want to feel invulnerable. They write about Thought Catalog because they think it will bring in hits. It brings Gawker hits, it brings Thought Catalog hits with a link back. This, I have little problem with. This insular collaboration seems obvious, right?
One website writes about another website thus validating another website. I get it.
But the comment-ers. They think this fairytale is real! They think by using their little anonymous comment that they are in on the joke! That they’re part of either site. That they’re not being used by people on both sites.
Everyone hates this article a girl, Marie Calloway, wrote about having sex. Fine.
Then, what I don’t understand is that EVERYONE talks about this article they hated about a girl having sex.
And in the end, whether I want to or not, I don’t know your name.
But I know her name.