How does one turn into a rabid extremist over the description of a children’s bike? Emily Writes looks at Facebook comments so you don’t have to.
You’ve been there, I know it. You’re scrolling along, trying to avoid QAnon conspiracy theories and Trump apocalypse memes when a story catches your eye. You scan the headline, maybe read the intro, and you think – sure, makes sense. And then you see the first comment. Then the next. And suddenly you question yourself – did we read the same fucking article?
Because the comments, oh the comments, they’re incomprehensible. Was Facebook always full of punishers? Is it getting worse? These are questions I cannot answer. But I can give a rundown of the mess, to try to analyse what went wrong, where.
For today’s example we’re going to use the story headlined “The Warehouse apologises after coming under fire for ‘sexist’ listing for child’s bike” from Newshub.
The story is in the headline basically. In the online description for the Milazo Boys’ 20-inch bike it said it had a button-activated “very fast quick release brake”, which was described as being “so easy even for a girl”.
It was shared on Reddit. People were annoyed but also had a laugh about how ridiculous it was to say something was “easy even for a girl” and The Warehouse apologised. “We know boys and girls are equals, and can do anything. This language, which came from an overseas supplier, is unacceptable and isn’t what we believe at all. It’s not in our values. Because of this, we really appreciate that our customers called it out. We do our best to catch all the many thousands of product descriptions to make sure they meet our standards. We missed this one, and we truly apologise.”
Now you might think a well-rounded, mature person would see this and think: Good job. Good apology. Unlikely to happen again. End of story. But, on Facebook very few people are rounded, let alone well-rounded.
There are 936 comments on this story. I decided to break them down so you don’t have to.
Why do you care you triggered fucking snowflake
This isn’t a direct quote, it’s just a summary of about 400 of the comments. Who “you” is in this scenario isn’t clear, but it’s interesting that the most furious comments are from people who are suggesting an invisible army of people are snowflakes given they’re on Facebook writing in all caps, furious that The Warehouse changed the description on a children’s bike (or that they read about it, I’m unsure). It’s almost like they’re the snowflake?
Also, snowflakes are beautiful?
You fucking libtards are so precious
Now, this argument is quite similar to the previous argument but it’s different in that it’s… oh wait, it’s not. Once again a grown adult is furious about the description of a children’s bike being changed. The change has happened. The story is done and yet there is righteous rage.
“I think its gold.. love how they’ve put some sass in their ad. Too many precious snowflakes around. Do they not realise that laughing increases your lifespan and makes life more enjoyable??”
This is a combination of the above two arguments but I like this one because it supports the most oppressed in our society – marketers. This wasn’t an ad. It was a description of a bike made by the supplier and probably translated into English but I like that we’re getting health tips from someone who can’t tell the difference.
“OMG… really ?? I think that we have more pressing things to think about than this How about we start a conversation about keeping said Girls and their brothers safe ?”
It’s the random capitalisation of Girls for me. And that boys exist in relation to girls. This is the matriarchal system I’m here for. I also like that this comments shares what we all know – you can only think about one thing at a time. It’s the rule.
“Oh come on! My husband can bench press 180kg, I can do 40kg…he can open the pickle jar, I can’t…My son is wayyy stronger than my girl, basic human anatomy… People should seriously stop being offended about silly things like this… there are real problems in the world, this shouldn’t be one of them…”
At least the science on this is settled thanks to *checks notes* woman on Facebook who can’t open a pickle jar.
“Give me strength it’s a boys bike (not even sure that’s PC to say – but yes the middle bar is different). PC out of control.”
The middle bar is for your balls.
“Oh no! Not a “sexist” listing!!! LoL The internet is mostly used for pornography & we live in a: “Sex-Workers Paradise” you fools.“
If only. Unfortunately sex workers still face a huge amount of stigma. But if a children’s bike can pave the way to changing that then wonderful.
“are you trying to say that I can’t be both educated and a stay at home mum“
What I love about this comment is it perfectly shows the wild escalation of Facebook comments. People will make a comment that’s relatively benign, you can tell their heart isn’t really in it – and yet, 15 minutes later they’re frothing like a rabies racoon. Why does this happen?
The greatest failing of the education system world-wide is that the terms communist and socialist now mean “anybody who annoys me on the internet”. A bike is Bourgeois Property anyway.
It’s a bit of a laugh but it also might be making us terrible. In 2019, a study was carried out on comments from 11,305 Facebook posts published by 33 news outlets. A polling company then surveyed 2,200 people in the US for a nationally representative sample to see if those comments had a psychological impact on them.
The Distorting Prism of Social Media: How Self-Selection and Exposure to Incivility Fuel Online Comment Toxicity is a very interesting study. It examined whether toxic comments receive more “likes” than civil ones and tested whether exposure to toxic comments increases the toxicity of subsequent comments.
Here’s what it found: “People who report that they comment frequently on social media not only express more polarised opinions in surveys but write more toxic comments in an elicitation task than other Americans. Similarly, the toxicity of the comments we observe on Facebook substantially exceeds the toxicity of the comments provided on the same articles by a representative sample of the public. Moreover, we find that toxic comments generally attract more ‘likes’ on Facebook than more civil comments. Finally, our survey experiment indicates that people write more toxic comments on a Facebook post when they are randomly exposed to especially toxic comments about the post, suggesting that exposure to toxic comments begets further toxicity”.
I dunno, sounds like the study was run by a bunch of communist, leftard, precious, socialist lame stream media PC Gone Mad snowflakes to me.
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