Whatever happened to “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”?
Today it seems like that age-old advice has been altered a bit to something more along the lines of “If you can’t say something nice, go ahead and say something not nice. And be sure to say it loudly and as often as you can, preferably online so you can say it anonymously.”
Recently an item showed up in my Facebook news feed with a link to an article about a certain classic rock band that was adding more dates to its current tour schedule. Nearly 100 comments already had been posted by the time I saw it, so I decided to read some of them.
According to the vast majority of those posting comments, this band, which was long ago inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is terrible, greedy, pathetic, old or all of the above. Not only should it not be allowed to tour, the individual members should probably do the world a favor and die.
I don’t know much about economics, but I know this band would not be touring at all, let alone adding more shows to its schedule, unless it were profitable. That means that hundreds of thousands of apparently misguided Americans still want to see the band in concert. I’m sure the Facebook critics would recommend that all these fans go ahead and die, too. In their opinion, anyone stupid enough to like this band is obviously useless to society.
What I found especially interesting and sad is that it appeared the person who originally posted the article on Facebook did so for the sole purpose of telling the world how much he hates this band.
You know what, pal? Who cares?
Nobody is forcing you, or any of the other haters who commented, to go to one of the band’s concerts. So why do you feel the need to share your hatred on the Internet?
While the Internet has many good points, it also has become the superhighway of hate. Young people are bullied online to the point of suicide. Ironically, even ISIS, the group of maniacs who want to return mankind to the Stone Age, has no problem using 21st century technology to spread its message of hate and gain new recruits.
If I were to go on Facebook or Twitter and write “I’m glad the sun came up again today,” I would likely get some positive comments. But I also might see comments such as “I hate the sun, it’s too bright,” or “The moon is so much better!” or “Sun lovers are ignorant and should not be allowed to waste valuable oxygen.”
This negativity certainly is not limited to social media. You can often find it in The Republic’s Around Town section. Nearly every day there is at least one Onion that, no matter its specific complaint, can be summed up as “Onions to anyone too dumb to think or believe exactly what I think or believe.”
The one I see occasionally that really cracks me up is “Onions to people who submit Onions.” You mean like what you just did? I believe that a major reason for the rise in the public expression of disagreement and hatred is the anonymity afforded by the Internet. Anyone can go on the web and spew all manner of hatred and venom without ever having to take responsibility for it.
But if you spend hours and hours online spreading anonymous vitriol and disrespect for others, how long before you’re spouting this stuff out loud, in public?
Sometimes silence truly is golden. If we can’t say something nice, maybe we should not say anything at all.
Doug Showalter can be reached at 379-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.