Thursday, September 11, 2014

Internet Pet Peeves

I'm not normally one for lists, or redundancy, but I nevertheless desire to make a list of my internet pet peeves, as no other lists I have found cover the same things in the same way that I would.  These are largely based around comment sections and chat rooms and especially movie-related chat rooms.

Armchair Evangelists

I am a Christian.  This is the most important thing in my life and my eternal destination.  Nevertheless, I am tired of armchair evangelists who turn every post or message board into a non sequitur altar call.  "You better get right with God because they don't serve super foods in hell."  I wonder if these people are so forthright in real-life or do they gutlessly keep their religion to themselves?

Archive Bashing

When someone gets mad about a differing viewpoint of a movie, usually on a binary level, and so they go through the reviewer's archive and name-drop another against-the-grain review from thirty years ago.  "You liked...?  Of course you would!  You're the same idiot who had an against-the-grain viewpoint on... in 1989."

Asking dumb questions

Who directed that movie?  I'm not telling you.  Do a google search!  It amazes me that newspapers still carry columns where people's movie and pop culture questions are answered.  Do these people really check out their newspaper daily to see if their question about that childhood show they liked has been answered?  Do a google search.  I think this trend, online anyway, is often just so people can get a pat on the head for being interested in something.  Why admit you don't know something when you can easily look it up?

Bad spelling and grammar

Good spelling and grammar, before you even touch the content of someone's words, are the first sign to the world that someone is not an idiot.  Spelling and grammar are the broadest and most objective gatekeepers of intelligent conversation.  When someone's post begins with a lowercase letter, my respect for their words is immediately lowered.  If they are not dumb, they are at least needlessly lazy.  Not that I am perfect, but there is little reason for spelling or grammatical mistakes when you can so easily look this stuff up as you are already on a computer.  Also, if you don't know how to pronounce or write popular phrases such as "toeing the line" or "lo and behold," look those up, too.  Look things up even when you only might be wrong.  The point of good English is that we can all have a common standard and understand each other.  An individual's slang, especially over the internet, can really confuse people.  Why needlessly admit ignorance when you can easily cover it up?


Republican= Smart.  Democrat= Stupid.  Or vice versa.  Or in a movie context, someone is dumb because they gave a thumb down, rotten tomato, etc. to a movie you would have given a positive binary marker to.  Don't get me wrong, I like the system of Rotten Tomatoes as long as the final binary rating is backed up by some sort of review and attacked on some sort of thoughtful basis.  I personally find star reviews to be too complex and cryptic.

Cleverness over intelligence (Snark over substance)

Many people seem to be more interested in making a clever put-down than making a real argument.  Or worse, sometimes they think their clever put-down actually is an argument.  When someone talks about the "reality-based community," that's when I start to check out.  The arrogant dismissiveness means a lot less than actually proving me wrong.  This also includes calling people "demoncrats" and "teathuglicans."

Complaining about complainers (except in this instance)

"If you don't like it, don't watch it."  While there is some truth to this, people are allowed to dislike things and they are allowed to express dislike, at least respectfully anyway.  Comment sections are for robust debate, not endless praise.  YouTube actually has a dislike bar for the express purpose of negative feedback.  Not to sound cutthroat or mean, but in today's competitive media world, smaller artists can theoretically be helped when we complain about mainstream entertainment.  Constant positivity upholds the status quo.  As I've said before, mainstream movies need no apologists and it is a sign of cultural decay when no one is allowed to dislike anything.


While I generally respect expertise, credentialist skepticism is often just a lazy cop-out argument that people bring up when they have no real response to your arguments.  Even common sense observations are met with this response.  To make the point a little strongly: "One plus one equals two."  "Excuse me!  Are you a mathematician?  Do you have a degree in mathematics?"

Critics must be masters

"Could you do any better?"  This is a line played by people against critics who dare be on the other side of the binary over a movie, or generally criticize anything.  It's a moot point.  One does not have to be good at making movies to know what a good movie is.  If you went out to eat and your food tasted funky, would you feel unqualified to complain because you are not a professional chef?


Bullying is terrible and most of us have been there at one point or another in our lives.  Cyberbullying adds some different layers to this.  It adds anonymity and, if one is online a lot, it adds endlessness.  In theory, you can be bullied at all times.  Or virtually never, since, on the other hand, it is entirely ignorable.  If someone is harassing me to my face, then I really have to do something about it.  If someone insults me online, I will either delete the comment, contact the administrator, or just plain ignore it and move on.  Sometimes it's a little hurtful, usually I don't really care, but I never respond. Why let someone know they've gotten under your skin?  As of yet, I have never been harassed twice by someone I ignored.  On the other hand YouTube is littered with months-long pointless, flame wars that make you feel embarrassed for humanity.  For the record, I understand that sometimes online harassment can be more serious and civil authorities should get involved, but this is relatively rare.

Factual Errors

This is along the same lines as spelling and grammatical errors.  I'm not talking about acceptable disagreements on broad and complex issues.  I'm talking about simple factual errors such as what year a movie was released.  Once again, why make a mistake when you don't have to?  Look it up!  This issue has gotten so bad that even the snarky correctors end up making their own factual errors.

False Compromise

Compromise is not a universal moral imperative!  Sometimes it's valid and sometimes it isn't.  So many people come up with self-serving definitions of what compromise is on a given issue and then put disingenuous, or at the very least na├»ve or ironic, labels on their opponents.  It would be as if someone asked to buy a pair of shoes from me for thirty dollars and I asked for one million dollars and I labeled them stubborn, selfish and uncompromising for not giving me five hundred thousand and fifteen dollars.  Also, there's the tactic of defining your opponent as status quo and your position as two steps toward point A.  Thus, the compromise becomes one step toward point A and only one party wins.  Compromise is only a matter of the rate at which one side loses.  True compromise involves two sides coming together and each getting some things they do and do not like.  It is not merely one side getting a little bit less of what they hate as compared to some extreme hypothetical.  It's like saying, "I won't make you scratch my back as much as I could."


Christians don't do themselves any favors by endlessly Bible-thumping over certain issues, especially when many Americans pride themselves on our country's so-called separation of church and state.  I believe in revealed religion, but God has also given us the tools of philosophy, science, etc. to find truth and, if nothing else, these can supplement Biblical arguments on a broad range of issues.


Is anyone allowed to casually enjoy anything anymore?  Can you say you are a fan of something without a lot of gatekeeper questions?  Shouldn't fan communities be more inviting?


This goes along the lines of armchair evangelism, but can be replaced with anything.  You know the type who somehow turns every board into the same topic, whether it's complaining about Obama, or Fox News, or some other pet topic that is always on their mind.  Perhaps the worst is when they milk tragedies for seemingly unrelated agendas.

No Citations

If you are going to make a point based on news stories or other hard facts that should be on the grid somewhere, don't expect me to look it up.  Post links and citations for your own points.  A lot of times when people do this, a quick google search actually doesn't bear them out. 


I'm tired of every Joe Nobody's faux pas, gaffe or inappropriate remark becoming viral "news."  It's even worse when people play guilt by association politics or ask someone almost entirely unrelated to renounce the statement as if they agree with it by default.  Call me when someone relevant says something relevant.

Philistine Snobs

At first glance, this would seem to be an oxymoron.  These are people who are skeptical that anyone actually has highbrow taste.  They can't wrap their heads around the idea that some people genuinely enjoy classical music, Shakespeare plays, 19th century literature, etc.  They are so close-minded, they can't even admit that anyone might disagree with them in earnest.  They review classic movies as if they are the only "honest" person who thought it was boring or they review lowbrow movies as if they were the only "honest" person who can admit they had fun.  They essentially take snobbish pride in their "authenticity."  They are the worst of both worlds.

Redundancy renders 90% of movie websites obsolete.  So much of the internet is just repeating information that already exists.  I've even been accused of that here, but I mostly try to avoid it.  A lot of new film buffs (believe me, I was once that guy), are so excited about this new world they are being introduced to and may not have a lot of friends who share their interests.  This leads to a lot of naively redundant "insights" and pointless reiterating of encyclopedic knowledge.  This is why this site only has a limited number of movie reviews and I link to other people's work from time to time when their observations are interesting to me or similar to what I would say rather than writing the same content as myself.

Stirring the Pot and Immediately Walking Away

I find it annoying, lazy and cowardly for people to say tremendously controversial things in comment sections and then when anyone offers a rebuttal, even within a few hours, they've already left the conversation forever.  I don't know how long anyone should feel obligated to stay in an online conversation, but I feel like you owe at least one response if you are going to say something controversial.  If you can't back up your viewpoint that far, maybe you shouldn't be saying it.  This is why I think twice before even getting involved with some threads.  It's too draining and involved if you take it seriously like I often do.

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