It’s no surprise that the internet is full of useless opinions (much like the one that you are about to read). It’s equally unsurprising that the bulk of these opinions live under the virtual bridge that is the comment section of any article on any website. There is one kind of comment, however, that transcends all these comments, and stands as a perfectly crafted gem of wasted human enterprise. You’ve all seen it, and you may even be guilty of it yourself… this is the comment that seeks to invalidate not just all the comments that came before it, but the very article, and sometimes the very website, itself.
It takes many forms. On a videogame blog it usually looks something like this:
Why are you guys taking this so seriously? I mean, these are just games!
On interior design blogs, aimed at helping people beautify and refine their space, a sweeping
Other people would be happy with what you have as it is, you should be happy with it too!
will helpfully attempt to nullify the entire discussion. Even productivity blogs (!) aren’t exempt, with the occasional
Why bother? In the grand scheme of things, this endeavor is futile!
to derail the conversation. My favorite response, however, can be found on nearly any article in which some hapless fool asks for advice, and is invariably met with some version of this:
Why are you asking strangers on the internet? You should rely on your own judgement!
Now, I’m all in favor of playing devil’s advocate. Considering the alternative in every situation is not just useful, it’s necessary. Or rather, it’s necessary in situations that don’t presuppose the alternative. That is to say, of course videogames are also JUST GAMES. Of course, a solidly built, functioning room with an unpleasant wall color is FINE AS IT IS, at least to someone else’s eye. Obviously paring a few minutes from a task is FUTILE, if not utterly meaningless, in the crawling expanse of all time and space in the universe. And yes, ultimately people will do what they want, not what some STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET tell them to do.
All of this is a great big groaning, grinding, eye rolling, neverending “DUUUUUUUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuuHHHHHHH” that creaks like the oars on a boat being paddled relentlessly upstream.
So why say it? In fact, why navigate the internet at all? Every time I see this comment, I wonder what compels the human mind, what trick of psychology motivates someone to want to suck a little wind from the sail of human conversation. Why read a blog that dissects and parses every nuance of videogames and gaming if they mean nothing? Why read an interior design blog if design is an affront to basic functionality? And why, oh why for the love of god, read a productivity blog, if the notion itself is so pointless indeed? But most of all, why be a stranger on the internet and tell someone to trust their own judgement when that person’s own judgement has taken them to strangers on the internet?
These commenters are not trolls, in the truest sense of the word. In fact, in a backward way, I’m sure many of them see themselves as altruistic voices of reason in a world corrupted by meaningless wastes of time and energy. Their subtext is clear, and whispers coldly… “first world problems”. They’re right, of course. But #FWP could accurately tag roughly 90% of the internet’s most popular traffic, of which they clearly are a part. I wonder if the gnawing guilt that perhaps their time should be spent otherwise compels them to pass judgement on the very things they occupy themselves with.
All this to say, we know. The internet has been around long enough that most of us with half a brain know that what we’re passionately discussing means nothing when faced with starvation, misery, destruction and ultimately, the yawning maw of eternity. We get it, now leave us be.