Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Comments Section: America's Nasty, Disgusting Id

Tonight I was looking at a news story on about a tragic shooting of an 18 year old bodega worker during a robbery here in Newark, and I made the mistake of scrolling down to the comments.  Many people expressed their shock and sympathy for the victim's family, but others used their anonymity to spew bigotry.  Yes, there is some sick, terrible person out there who responded to the comment of "what's the latest murder count in Newark" with "not enough."

That kind of callous hatred is all too typical on comment boards.  It seems like half of the time that I watch a video on YouTube there is some kind of racist bullshit in the comments section.  I've come to the conclusion that comments sections are where our nation's id, in all of its disgusting awfulness, gets aired.  Often, when I talk to white suburbanites here in New Jersey and mention that I live in Newark, people get a look on their face like they just but into a lemon wedge.  Shielded by pseudonyms, these same people are free to go online and say what they really think about the city and its residents, but wouldn't say to my face.

Before the world wide web, this id had to be expressed more carefully, in monochromatic places.  Aside from churches, barbershops might be the most segregated institutions in America, which for me has meant a lifetime of being trapped in a "safe space" for bigots to expound racist garbage.  (At least when I was in Michigan one brave barber told someone to STFU.  When in Texas I went to a ladies hair salon to get my hair cut just to avoid the inevitable.)  At least the internet puts it all out in the open. With so much evidence so readily available, I at least hope we can dispel the fatuous assertion that America is a "post-racial" society, and start to talk more seriously about much raw hate permeates our society.

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