Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A comment about "comments"

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We've got quite a few readers here at WB, but very few of them leave comments. And you know, it's probably better that way.

The state of civil discourse is officially in tatters, thanks to the Internet and the "democratization" of online information. Not only has Google News killed journalism by scraping/gutting the professional journalism outlets for free content, but those outlets having invited any anonymous lunatic and loser to "comment" about the journalism has led to a free-for-all of the worst kind of moronic tripe ever to be wrapped in tortured language alphabet letters.

Consider: An article in the Science section of the New York Times describes an awesome mini-golf course in Queens called Rocket Park. It's called that because the holes and hazards on the golf course are made of... actual rockets. Like, ten stories high, the kind that have gone to space. And along with mini-golfing, which admittedly became sort of lame a long time ago, kids learn about gravity, about black holes, about the overall science of astrophysics. It's the kind of education that many parents would mortgage their souls for if it meant their kids could have such an awesome hands-on learning experience.

In short, it's a topic that really warrants and invites intelligent, thoughtful conversation about the state of education, about motivating kids to become intellectually curious, about this golf park being a first step in American students' steady climb out of the pit of scientific ignorance. Who knows, such a conversation might accidentally lead to another idea as cool as the Rocket Park.

Dream on.

Here's how the actual "conversation" of online "comments" begins after the Times piece appears as an NYT share on Facebook (names have been changed to protect the imbecilic):

Allison S: coolz

Adam W: No one 1st?


Tom A: Adam stink


Randy B: so cool


Frank R: ....


Neil T: Yea


Jonas C: 2nd?


Andy L: oh snap lol


James H: wow that's cool


Dave F: MINNESTOA
(sic) ROCKSSSSS!!!!

60 or 70 more of these mindless inanities follow, and then this scintillating "conversation" turns to... religion. Yes, someone uses the public forum to drop in a handy Bible verse (because this is a very effective way to appeal to the unchurched) that's totally unrelated to the topic — as if the "conversation" above it had anything to do with anything — and the anti-religious trash the religious and the religious trash other religions, and someone finally interjects the lyrics to a Spanish salsa tune.

This is the state of civil discourse in not just America, but the world. This is why nothing will ever get done about any problems of substance — because if we can't even talk intelligently about mini-golf as an aid to children wanting to learn science, then there's no hope for actual conversation about gigantic issues like corruption or poverty or climate disaster.

Coolz, yea, oh snap.

We are so screwed.

lol
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