Ignorance Sometimes is Bliss

My local newspaper has been running a series of stories about people in the area who are living “paycheck to paycheck”. People who are having a hard time in this economy. It has been a very good series, and I think these stories need to be out there, because the reality is even though the area is “booming” and housing prices are skyrocketing, not everyone is doing so well.

I typically read the newspaper at nights, right before I go to bed. Reading a physical copy of the newspaper is a solitary experience:you read an article, form your opinion on the article, and then move on to the next. With all this writing I have been doing, I have been instead reading these articles online. With the online version, you get to read other people’s comments, which whether you like it or not, can shape the experience of reading the article. I’m not so sure this is a good thing for me.

I have been reading all these touching stories about people who are just making ends meet, young people raising a young baby, both attending college while they fight to keep their heads above water. Words describing people who are struggling with gas costs, health care costs, loss of job, or whatever, but they keep fighting the good fight every day. These stories make me feel sad for the people in the article, but happy they keep trying.

Then I read what some of my neighbors have to say. Not much of it is pretty. You see your holier than though comments, your “my taxes shouldn’t be used to help people” comments, and your those people just want a handout comments. The anonymity of the internet can make people feel very brave I found, and they have not problem being outright rude, not caring how their words can hurt other people. The sad part is that on at least one occasion the people in the story read the comments and had to defend themselves there.  It sure makes you feel crappy about your community, I’ll tell you that.

I know what I should do.  I should just stick to the printed version of the paper and avoid all of these comments.  That is probably what I will do.  However, I just wish people would take a moment and put themselves in other people’s shoes.  They might not like what they see, but maybe they would understand.


10 thoughts on “Ignorance Sometimes is Bliss

  1. Yes! On-line is not always best. I unsubscribed myself from my CHURCH discussion board becasue I did nto like what I read there. Ugh. When will we learn to live in love?

  2. It’s really sad when people feel the need to comment in that way. You may disagree with the way something is handled, but making those comments just makes you part of the problem. Try offering a solution instead of attacking someone else for a change. We need new ideas, not tired, old complaints with no factual basis.

    I can’t even read the print version of my local paper anymore, due to the article quotes and editorial pages presenting similar attitudes.

  3. I blogged about this also – how the anonymity of the internet empowers people to act like aholes. I once read 800 comments as research for a posting I did on children haters and parents and their view on a controversial sign in some stores that said if you don’t quiet your child you will be asked to leave or something like that. The comments were unbelievably ugly on both sides of the issue. It seriously made my heart hurt that people could hate each other so viciously and state it so vehemently on the internet. Now, I avoid the comment trails on news articles because there is just too many nasty people out there. Good post!

  4. Good post! I have been shocked by the vehemence of these people, usually hiding behind anonymity or an assumed name. My mother used to use the old adage ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say about someone, then say nothing’, I have heard it revamped for today as ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say about someone – come and sit next to me!’

    I think the same rule applies to the internet – by all means have an opinion – but allow others to have their opinion too. No need for vicious diatribes – or nasty comments on people’s blogs either for that matter…

  5. It’s much the same here in Europe. I heard a news reader going on about the way Government is spending her tax Euro on the homeless, jobless, useless, members of society. I flipped the switch and heard the Eagles’ new single, “How Long” instead. A more pleasant experience.

  6. News are sad most of the time, that’s why I tend to avoid them as much as possible. Unfortunately many people are very mean and take joy at others’ misfortunes, when they should in fact try to help or at least be sympathetic. Good post, Struggling Writer.

  7. On one hand, comments from online articles can drive you insane. There are so many idiots out there who really only have the nerve to lash out when they can hide behind anonymity. This can make reading articles online an absolute pain.

    On the other hand, being able to see reader’s feedback to an online article is one of the great advantages of the Internet age. Just because someone has an article published in print, doesn’t mean it isn’t full of incorrect information or biases.

    I think it’s important to hear what other’s have to say on a topic. Sometimes their opinions will outrage you and sometimes they’ll make you stop and think — hopefully sometimes both. Other times people will post obviously ignorant comments that you just have to learn to ignore. It’s mainly a matter of growing a thick skin and realizing that a comment forum doesn’t represent the majority.

  8. Just a quick comment as a random tag surfer reading about other peoples Nano experiences. Saddly people for the most part, won;t even take the time to consider another persons feelings if they are face to face. They are even less likely to do so when they can make there comments in complete annominity.

    I myself have chosen to read the paper online as an environment decision. It is my choice if I want to read the comments other people have to make about any news article.

    Good Luck with your Nano

  9. I noticed this when I read online articles about Madeleine McCann, and about the Japanese language school Nova going bust. It seems that some people are full of anger and frustration and take online newspaper articles as a vent for their negative feelings. Last November, I wrote some posts about how traumatic I was finding the run up to Kiko’s first birthday and how I was reliving the memories of his difficult birth. Somebody using an assumed name left a horrible comment about one of those posts. The person hadn’t closely read what I’d written because the comment was fairly irrelevant nastiness, but it shocked me and made me wonder if that person had any concept of what we all went through at Kiko’s birth. (I deleted the comment fairly swiftly, by the way!) My friend and I were talking about this and nastiness in general and she said: “People are like that because they have no concept of what it is to truly suffer. You just have to hope they never find out.” That’s the attitude I try to take.

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