A complete dumpster fire.

I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram as I often find myself doing and made the mistake of going to the comments section of a post. The content truly doesn’t matter because it turns out that most comment sections are exactly the same kind of shit.

Comments are sorted by “relevance” with particular weight given to those with a fair share of likes and interaction. People think of their best one-liner and toss it up as quick as they can after the content has been posted. Often, they are comments meant entirely to elicit a response from that person’s perceived adversaries. If the post is conservative in nature, the comment will be something about how “THOSE LIBERAL SNOW FLAKES CAN’T HANDLE THIS!”

Again, the content of the comment doesn’t matter, it’s about the response. And the response is often swift and equally forceful from the imaginary opposition. In our made up example, the liberal army heeds the call to arms and starts to question the motives of their would-be assailant. The assailant hits back with sophomoric insults knowing the argument itself is the reason they posted in the first place. The dance continues until someone has the good sense to forget about it and move on with their fucking day.

This is everywhere, for all kinds of content, even the most innocuous, completely harmless to all who view it. People see the comment section as a good place to vent their frustrations about the world. Normally the complaints and grievances are of a political nature, hence the example above. But it could be just general bitching about the world too. If you see a post about an adorable kitten and the first comment is something about how this kitten hasn’t made it’s stance clear about Palestine, you’ll know you’re in the same world I see.

Free speech is a gift we all receive when we are born in the United States. It is also the source of all of this unrestrained stupidity that now litters the landscape of the internet. In many ways, it is the same as it ever was, but with the addition of social media to give every single person a megaphone if they are determined enough. I am still a firm believer that the right to free speech is one of the pillars of our version of democracy and I will defend it to the grave. This includes agreeing that even those with opinions I vehemently oppose have the right to express those opinions. That is just a fact to me. They have the right to their opinion and have the full, unadulterated power of the internet to express it. Because no matter how terrible the opinion may seem to me, it is just that, opinion. Words have seldom hurt me and they have never to my knowledge done me any physical harm. Sticks and stones, as it is said.

But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to grab all of these people by the shoulders and shaking them to near death. None of this matters. The content doesn’t matter, your thoughts and opinions on it don’t matter, and this post to bitch about it doesn’t matter. The only thing that does matter is realizing how amazing it is to be able to post in the first place.

If you live in the United States and you post something off the wall or you make an untoward comment on someone else’s post, odds are good that you’re not going to get into any kind of hot water. There are places in the world that will execute you for voicing the wrong opinions in a public forum and that simply doesn’t happen here. That much of our freedom remains intact.

But what does this freedom cost the future of discourse in this country and the world? Because you can only sift through so many shortsighted, angry comments before you decide that maybe freedom of speech isn’t for everyone.

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