As anyone with a well used wifi connection can tell you, the first rule of internet is ‘never read the comments’. If the internet were to be pictorially represented in map form and then buried for future generations to gaze on in wonder from their underground, mud lined cells, the comments section would be the part labelled ‘Here Be Monsters’ while illustrated flames lick at the twisted faces of miserable souls.
In among the general strain of awful are several distinct personality types, or Internet Weirdos if you will. They are the equivalent of the old woman who mutters at you when you walk past her house every morning, or the racist distant cousin who bails you up at family events to tell you about ‘queue jumpers’ and how the moon landing never really happened. I detail five of them for you below so that you may be prepared when they inevitably appear one by one in the comments box to refute everything I’ve said.
1. The ‘whatever happened to freedom of speech?!?!’ intellectual blackhole
You’ve probably had a run in with this type before. They usually appear whenever someone publishes a rebuttal or criticism of another person’s ideas. When I say ‘ideas’, I really mean comments about things ranging from why gay parenting harms children to how Julia Gillard managed to run the country into ground by using her sympathy seeking breasts as pneumatic drills.
Op-ed writers from both sides of the fence have come into contact with people who think ‘freedom of speech’ (which is largely symbolic in Australia anyway) isn’t actually about the right for people to express their religious, political or personal views without fear of penal retribution or government reprisals.
Instead, they think it means that Sam Newman can ponce about on The Footy Show mocking women and homosexuals and that no one’s allowed to challenge this. Write a considered response to this and some bonehead will rile up to screech at you in caps letters, “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH?!?!?” My dear, you are witnessing it in action.
2. The ‘some of my best friends are’ bigot
“Black people suck up too much welfare in this country and are given too many breaks. Us real Aussies are living on Struggle Street and they’re just bloody throwing houses at these people who do nothing to earn them and don’t even take care of them! And don’t you dare call me racist, because some of my best friends are black and they agree with me.”
This argument is about as water tight as a sponge if that sponge were actually made out of water.
3. The boy suck
This is a little similar to the ‘some of my best friends’. As a violently unattractive, hairy feminist witch who shoots flames out of her vagina at unsuspecting men oppressed my modern day matriarchy, I’m particularly familiar with this response. It takes the form of a woman bending over backwards to assure all the men spurting indignation from their faceholes that she’s on their side. She likes being treated like a lady. She thinks feminism has gone too far and is actuallyactively targeting men. Women won’t stop until they’ve taken over entirely! But no sirree, she’s not like that.
She respects men and WILL NOT PARTICIPATE IN THEIR SUBJUGATION. She wants everyone to know that she respects the rules of engagement and is very happy having her little spot at the foot of the table. Oh, and sometimes this woman is actually a man using a woman’s name.
4. The ‘everyone knows’ truth teller
In this case, the ‘everyone’ refers to the person making the comment and all their similarly aligned friends and the truth they’re supposedly reporting on is an opinion that has, more often than not, been sourced and fact checked directly from their rectum. It’s usually applied to statements that have no basis in actual fact, but just feel right to the person making them - so much so that they assume they must be shared by everybody.
For example, ‘everyone knows that all women secretly want to get married’ or ‘everyone knows that Charlie Sheen is a maniacal sociopath with a fondness for abusing women and drugs in equal measure’. Okay, that last one was me BUT IT FEELS RIGHT TO ME AND SO IT MUST BE TRUE.
5. The stalker who hates you but can’t stay away
You know this person. They comment on every single thing you write, often multiple times (and frequently complain that they’re being censored because the moderators consider 50 comments on one post to be excessive and, frankly, a little grabby). They bombard your twitter account with links to all the blog posts they write about how pathetic you are (ironing - it’s not just something other people do to their shirts), or tag you in when other people are discussing whether or not the zoo knows they’re missing a gorilla on photographs of your face.
They start threads in Reddit about how misguided your politics are, enlisting all their similarly cerebrally challenged friends to indulge in a metaphorical masturbation session over your desecrated reputation. And they always, always, always read every single thing you write. They want you to know that they’re nothing special. They’re just a fruitcake standing in front of someone who doesn’t care and asking her to notice them.