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It’s Comments All the Way Down

If the Internet were to receive its own Ten Commandments—picture a Moses figure descending from Mountain View, clutching a stone phablet etched with a listicle of moral directives—somewhere in there would surely be the phrase “Thou Shalt Not Read the Comments.” There are few online experiences more dispiriting, more arduously futile, than the downward scroll into the netherworld of half-assed provocations and inanities that exists beneath the typical opinion piece or YouTube video. It is plainly bad for the soul, the whole business, and yet we do it, all the time—or I do, at any rate, more of the time than I care to reflect upon. Fairly frequently, someone will post a link to something on Facebook or Twitter with the stern caveat that, although comments should obviously be avoided as a rule, the comments on this specific article must be avoided with especial care, and I will find myself clicking the link and having a quick read of the piece before doing, at considerable length and with considerable rigor, precisely what I have been warned against, precisely because I have been warned against it. There’s presumably some kind of masochistic imperative at work here—the perverse compulsion of masochism, that is, without any of the perverse pleasure. (Clicking a “View All Comments” button is a mild manifestation, I suspect, of the Freudian death instinct.)

Source: It’s Comments All the Way Down – The New Yorker

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