I’ve written about the everlasting problem of blog comments before, as have many bloggers, and now I see that Virginia Heffernan has weighed in at the NYT. Why do we keep doing this? After all, it’s well-established that Americans in general are poorly-informed about just about everything, and that levels of hostility on the internet often reach pathological levels. So what more is there to say? Anger and stupidity are the order of the day, every day.
I think we keep writing about these matters because we don't know what’s going on in any given case, in any given mind. When you get to know a particular blog well you're likely to come across a regular commentator who is just astonishing in his ignorance — but wait: how do we know he’s not just jerking our chain? Can someone really be that clueless? Or must there be malice involved?
We ask questions like this because we have a natural, and apparently quite intense, interest in what makes other people tick. (Insert your favorite sociobiological explanation here.) But nothing is harder to understand than human motives, as a few minutes of self-examination would reveal to any of us. And none of these people who clog the internet with their anger and/or ignorance are interesting. So it’s curious that so many of us keep worrying over this issue.