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August 6th, 2007

Number Eight

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I'm on vacation, and while I'm gone, with computers and Net connections in short supply, I'm counting down the Ten Greatest Crimes Against Humanity Committed By The Internet. The series begins here.

Some of you will be surprised that this is coming in way down at number eight. I'm a bit surprised myself. Because as the home of the dumbest people on the entire Internet, you'd think it'd rank higher.

I'm serious. Dumber than right-wing blog comments. Dumber than MySpace. Dumber than video game blogs, Conservapedia, Hannidate, Dare 2 Share, or Harry Potter fanfic sites. If you've been to all these places, and been ridiculed by the regular inhabitants for your poor grasp of reason, grammar, spelling, or what constitutes a fucking point, there's only one place left on the Internet where you can go and fit right in.

You head on over to YouTube and comment on the videos.

The only thing keeping YouTube's comment threads from being top three is that they're ENTIRELY superfluous to the YouTube concept. They're like an appendix. They've been included because all the other websites have them, not because they're intrinsic to the act of sharing video. Hell, 90% of the time, nobody watches YouTube videos ON YOUTUBE, where the comments live. They just watch embedded video from somewhere else.

You're not gonna read YouTube comments by accident, is my point. You have to actively seek them out. It's like saying dog poop is the worst tasting food ever. I'm sure it tastes really bad, but you have to make an effort to ingest it. And it's never, ever worth that effort.

This is especially true if the video in question has any political content. You think the level of discourse is bad in general? YouTube comments make Hannity and Colmes look like Socrates debating Descartes about the merits of ice cream and blowjobs.

I'm serious. I've been watching stupid shit posted on the Internet since before it was the Internet. I've watched as stupidity gradually filled my screen at 300 baud. I've read IMDB movie threads and Amazon reviews. And YouTube comments have, by far, the highest concentration of pure, stubborn, head-up-the-ass stupidity on the entire Internet. I mean, look at this. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Woman are atrractive period. But unfortunately woman have 2 get old, And its not cute at all for any whites, Blacks, latinas period. So for whoever think that whites are becoming extinct, Its because of people like u.Maybe U need 2 start race-mixing, u big dummie."

And no, before you ask, knowing the video that this is the first comment after does not provide necessary, mitigating, or redemptive context. It's like a contest to see how many common Internet moronitudes they can fit in one paragraph. And I think they won. The rest of YouTube? Pretty much the same, plus half-assed attempts at spam and self-publicity.

If a picture is a thousand words, then the average five-minute YouTube video should, mathematically, be equivalent to NINE MILLION WORDS. Which you'd think would be more than you need to describe a dog riding a skateboard. But since 99.9% of the words on YouTube are spelled entirely with "HA", "LOL", and exclamation points. there's surprisingly little narrative headroom for the mental Micronauts that make up the YouTube "community" to work with.

The only good thing about it is that, since they mostly keep to themselves, when it comes time to cull the Internet, they'll be easy to find.