When did it reach critical mass? This ever-increasing trend toward behaving like uncivilized monsters in Internet comments sections, I mean. Wherever I look, people are typing unspeakably nasty things to each other from behind the safety of a computer screen, and I find it hard to imagine we'll ever go back to believing in the virtue of politeness.
Drive-by cruelty has become so common it takes a lot to surprise me anymore (I admit that the recent accusation that I am "a worthless disgrace as a woman, a mother, and a wife" on what I thought was a fairly innocuous blog post got my attention), but here's something I've been noticing: more and more, it's not enough for people to toss out hurtful words. The acts of violence I've seen described right here at The Stir make me wonder why anyone thinks this is an acceptable, much less admirable, method of expressing parental love.
I'm talking about the so-called mama bear instinct, which every parent is familiar with. It's the innate desire to protect our children, and I can imagine plenty of situations when such a primal emotion is exactly what's needed to save our children from danger.
Pouring our most violent fantasies into the Internet, however, doesn't seem like one of them.
I was particularly struck by the unrestrained vitriol stirred up over the story of blogger Kathleen Carpenter (writing as Katie Vyktoriah), who claimed her son was assaulted in a Walmart for wearing a pink headband. In her (now deleted) words,
With no notice, the man stepped forward, grabbed the headband off of Dexter’s head and threw it to the bottom of our shopping cart. He then cuffed Dexter around the side of his head (not hard, but that is not the point) and said with a big laugh, “You’ll thank me later, little man!”
There were many who questioned the validity of Carpenter's story, and sadly, Carpenter was later placed under psych observation and her blog has been taken offline. I have absolutely no idea if her allegations are true or not, but let's say they are. Let's say a man really did do this. Let's say you're the mom, and your 2-year-old son is right there in the shopping cart. How do you respond?
Here are just a few examples of what people wrote in the comments section of this post:
Forget the police forget security. I'm finding the heaviest thing i can find and planting it up side his head. I really wish someone would touch or come out the side of their neck to talk to MY kids like that.
Touch my kid like that and my fist will be through your teeth, and yes the jail time would be worth it.
I'd beat the crap outta anyone who did that to my son!
Touch my son once esp. to touch him over something so dumb my concealed gun would be coming out cause i would have felt threatend
If I get arrested for assault so be it, I have friends that know really good bail bondsman and attorney. So if you feel froggy then jump and lay a hand on one of my kids.
Hit my son and you're going down in a whole lot of pain.
I would have been in jail. If anyone was to ever touch my daughter like that, they would get the same and more from me.
I would like to think a knee-jerk, heel of my palm to this shitbags nose, would have occurred.
They would have needed to call medics for his ass cause i would have beat the ever loving shit out of him. touch one of my kids and i can assure you you'll never walk again
No one EVER touches my child lest I lay them OUT. And I have one helluva right hook, trust me.
You touch my son. I snap back. You may die.
If someone touched my kid, I'd beat them down, no questions asked.
I would have kicked that SOB right in his f****t hating nuts. Then stomped on his head when he went down.
if i feel like my child or myself is in danger i would not hesitate to shoot someone who put his hands on my child or threaten them in anyway ... it would be the worst and last mistake that person would ever commit ...
Look. I'm not saying I don't understand the way emotions can override logic when it comes to the wellbeing of our children. I'm definitely not saying that if this happened to me, I would have been calm, cool, and collected. I am, however, saying that attacking or shooting a man right in front of your toddler, when your child is not in any sort of active danger, is fucking deranged.
(Frankly, I also think every single one of these big threats is complete bullshit. I don't know what kind of fantasy it fulfills to imagine the righteous ass-whupping you'd deliver right there in a Walmart, but I call a big yeah, RIGHT on this dramatic collection of right hooks, heels to the nose, and permanent paraplegia.)
Why would this be our first impulse when we hear a story about someone's alleged bad behavior toward a child? He did something wrong, so let's do something even MORE wrong and physically assault him? Where's the sense in that? And why do I get the sense that there are plenty of people who absolutely love having an opportunity to take anonymous name-calling to the next level?
Hateful comments seem to be a toxic, unstoppable trend for well-read sites, and the eagerness with which some make the leap to violent words is truly disturbing. It makes you wonder -- what, exactly, are we all so angry about?
Do you think Internet comments are getting more negative? What's your take on expressing violence in response to this blogger's story?
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