What's Behind the Internet Rage Machine?

Credit: DC Comics
Credit: Frank Cho

There’s a very telling quote from Dan Slott in our previous article, Understanding The Internet Rage Machine.

“You never want to let that guy know he got under your skin, and you never want to show people examples of bad behavior to emulate.”

Over the years, I’ve spoken to many comic creators who have told me many anecdotes about bad behavior from fans on the Internet, up to and including direct threats against themselves and their families (occasionally relaying a creator’s address to them and telling them, “I know where you live.”).

In compiling this article, I went back to several of those creators, and those conversations largely having took place in an informal setting, asked if they would relay their anecdotes again for the record. Almost invariably, these people declined. In some instances, it was years ago and water under the bridge. In some instances, it was still too recent, and people did not want to pick at a scab. More often than not, the response was sort form of “I don’t want to dignify that [expletive] with any kind of response or recognition.”

Suffice to say, the subject does make people itchy.

Also in compiling this article, I contacted a few journalistic colleagues and sent them a few working paragraphs with an explanation of what I was doing to get some in-progress feedback. I got multiple responses that told me what I already knew:

Credit: DC Comics

“You really have to talk to some of these people on the other side, hopefully rationally. That’s the interesting part.”

Firestarters on the Internet are easy to find. I contacted multiple message board and Twitter posters engaged in arguments with comic book creators, and asked them to speak me for this article to get their version of events on record. Not a single one agreed. Most never replied at all. You can fill in your own analogy about cockroaches running from the light here.

The intent of this article was basically threefold:

  1. To clinically describe “The Internet Rage Machine”
  2. To illustrate with some examples
  3. To hopefully encourage everyone to examine their own behavior.

Hopefully, those missions were fulfilled, to some degree.

We live in a “Yelp” culture, where every perceived slight (“Not enough mayo on my sandwich? I’ll show them!”) seemingly must be met with a Internet Sword of Justice. But these interactions generate much heat, and not much light. Hopefully, we can all turn toward a little more civility, and a little more light.

—Similar articles of this ilk are archived on a crummy-looking blog. You can also follow @McLauchlin on Twitter.

Read the original Internet Rage Machine article at this link.

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