What to take from Comments

For the unfamiliar, Vi Hart makes fabulously fun-entertaining-educational Youtube videos about math & geometry, doodling, food and music. (No, you needn’t have aced calculus to understand them; my 7-year old grandson thinks they’re awesome.)

Once in a while she takes a tangent, such as this episode, Vi Hart’s Guide to Comments, where she explores ideas about why people make different kinds of negative comments, possible reasons for reacting to them, and how best to respond.

I thought one analysis was particularly insightful:

Type #2 DIRECT SHALLOW INSULT
Commenters like these are thoughtless and bored, and obviously don’t have very high self-esteem. They’ve been taught to be normal, so if anything’s different about you, well that’s not allowed in the rulebook they know.

But in the anonymous internet context, I don’t think the usual explanation of them trying to put you down to make themselves feel bigger quite cuts it. They probably don’t see you as a real, live person, and would never make the comment to your face, so it’s not about putting you down.

In fact, their comments aren’t aimed at you at all.

They comment to pretend that they are not just wasting time on the internet, but being active participants, discerning in their tastes. Their commenting justifies their watching, and just like voting in American Idol or tweeting your local news, their opinion further invests themselves into their identity as a judge, observer, consumer. They have been taught to be vocally judgemental by the people for whom judging means watching, and watching means money. Plus, other commenters might reply, refuting their insult, which proves their comment matters.

As with other types of comments, she then proposes ideas for why we react, and what to do about the comment: that is, just let your eyes glide past them and move on.

The whole video is superb! (Also, she has fun playing with wax on her fingers.)

Auto-generated CC has some glitches, as usual.

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