Thursday, December 10, 2009

"...and decrease the surplus population"

The Internet, by some arguments, is a wonderful thing — truly a forum for Vox populi, the voice of the people. With everything open to comment, and every comment open to ratings (or metacomments), the pulse of the population can be taken at any moment. Or at least, the pulse of the population that comments and rates.

The Internet is also a place where much more than mere commentary can be found. Whole books are just a search-term away, like Charles Dickens' holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, available here and here and here and here (for starters). It is in this book that we find the classic line where, when told that many thousands of destitute people will die without food and shelter, Ebenezer Scrooge replies: "Then perhaps they should do it, and decrease the surplus population."

Let those words sink in for a moment, before we go back to the Internet.

Okay. Now let's consider a place called Bangladesh, a nation whose poverty was so dire 40 years ago that George Harrison organized a Live Aid-type benefit concert to raise not just money, but also awareness of the people's plight. Harrison also wrote a song about the country:

My friend came to me/With sadness in his eyes/Told me that he wanted help/Before his country dies/Although I couldn't feel the pain/I knew I had to try/Now I'm asking all of you/To help us save some lives

"Relieve the people of Bangladesh
," the chorus went. Five simple words that reveal the compassion and decency of their author.

The other day, MSNBC ran a story about Bangladesh sinking into the sea, about its drinking water turning to salt as ocean water seeps into wells, and about massive humanitarian crisis as crops fail, shelters collapse, diseases spread, and the nation of Bangladesh disappears from history as the first victim of climate disaster. And in response, the first vox populi commenter, Linda from Nebraska, wrote this:

Carbon emissions are not responsible. This man caused [sic] global warming is not founded in science, it is simply a money grab where the few take resouces [sic] from the many.

The second commenter, Douglas from Detroit, added this: "Global warming" is a scientific and academic scam being used by politicians to try to redistribute the wealth of nations. What is going on in Bangladesh is the well known process of economic developement [sic]. But what is going on at the UN is devious, dishonest, deceptive and destructive.

Wave after wave of kindness and compassion followed:

Utter and complete nonsense.... I am sure this country will demand monies form [sic] the wealthy countries, because of sourse [sic] its [sic] our fault....

These folks and their government want money form [sic] America and other leading countries, sad thing is they will get it, where's the supporting science. Unbelievable.

And this one:

These poor people are just contributing to the problem by breathing and using up all the worlds [sic] resources.

Yes, someone actually wrote that. His name is Mike Williams; for some reason, he doesn't give a location. But Gary Roy of Lakeland, Florida, does, and adds this:

The land will not support us and our 36 children, who is coming to save us? The first thing these people need to learn is when you find yourselves in a hole, stop digging. They are reproducing like rodents in a place that is already wall to wall with poeple [sic].

This is what the Internet, and its giving everyone the ability to comment on everything, has created. Ebenezer Scrooge, heartless, greedy, and amoral, is now everywhere. When the story is about dying people, his comments focus on money. He compares the children to rats. And he says, These poor people are just contributing to the problem by breathing and using up all the world's resources

— in other words: They should die, and decrease the surplus population.

Scrooge's heartlessness, his murderous apathy, seeps out of every crevice at YouTube as well. A video simply titled "Katrina Victims" receives this: The problem here is these people will never stop murdering and selling crack. So blame the taxpayer who is paying their way.

The money issue, again.

Another video from a 9/11 documentary, showing a businessman in the World Trade Center desperately clinging to a rope from his office window and then losing his grip and falling to his death, is followed by this:

lol that's what the fatass deserves for eating at mcdonalds everyday lol

There should be numerous "[sic]" notations there. But more importantly, the entire comment is sick.

If you want to see the Internet at its worst, search for the stories about the most terrible, heartbreaking events. Chances are, you'll find this statement at the end of the story: "Comments for this item have been disabled."

It's not because the huge outpouring of grief and sympathy has overwhelmed the system.

It's because the sheer evil of the comments has overwhelmed the moderators.


Anonymous said...

That is so disturbing. Where is the compassion?! I'm just fuming over the rodent comparison!


Anonymous said...

Great evidence that the internet is worse than a waste of time. It's soul-killing. I hope it's no *worse* than soul-killing, but I have my doubts.