On some corner of the Internet, I read a thing by a guy about how when cars were invented, people drove them in diagonals and bumped them into things, and generally hurt themselves. Rules had to be created, some kind of structure to guide everyone onto roads and into turn signals and protect people from themselves.
His point was that we haven’t quite figured this same thing out about the Internet itself. We keep bumping into things and hurting each other because we’re new at driving here, and no one gave us any seat belts.
One of the cult-favorite, unofficial Internet Rules is to never read the comments section.
I break this one all the time because I am too curious for my own good. I want to know what’s out there. I do not want to bubble-up.
This is also how I one time got in a comments-fight with a troll on a Thought Catalog article about music. He said Bon Iver was more talented than any rap artist because “they are all thugs who want to fight and Bon Iver wants to live in the woods and play the guitar.”
I said he was racist.
He said I was a dumb bitch.
I, separately, but not totally unrelated, cannot stand Bon Iver, except the one song that sounds like, “shaking babies will stick with hair,” which I’m pretty sure are not the words. But I can’t be certain because all the songs sort of sound like a cat in the shower.
And if you’d like to leave me a comment, I can take it, because I have sort of grown up from this web-exchange.
The thing is, I’m sure Bon Iver is a lovely person, simply talented in a way that I don’t quite appreciate for my own leisure listening. I’m just not convinced that guy in the comments section is a good person.
This is where seat belts come in.
How do we continually roll out new technology without thinking about contingency plans?
Where will it crash? What could go wrong? Where might people hurt themselves, or others?
I suppose the greater question is how do we enforce empathy across multidisciplinary lines?
Or emphasize it.
Or teach it.
Leaving the studio tonight, a woman who had just taken a shower was cleaning her ears. I do that, too - fresh out of the shower, with a Q-tip, an open mouth, same deal. How do we all learn that? How does more than one person across state lines pick up on weird little shit like that?
I didn’t ask her because it seemed intrusive and I don’t think everyone is as curious as I am about the minutiae of the day.
No one likes a real-life troll either. Seat belts.
But I think the answer to trolls lies somewhere in there, with the cotton swabs and tiny, daily details. Somewhere, fresh out of the shower, standing naked on the Internet instead of hiding in blanket statements and a cave of insults.