I mistyped something earlier and ended up, in one of those happy accidents, writing the word 'vomment' instead of comment. And before I had time to delete it and curse my sausage fingers, I thought to myself: wait a moment, that seems perfectly accurate to describe a lot of the comments you read on the internet - as I often do, for my pains. Vomment - a comment you vomit up because you can't keep it down any longer. Yes, there's something pleasing about that, I think.
I know it's often said that you should never go 'below the line' on news stories, and particularly on YouTube, when even the mildest video of a kitten can turn into a capital-lettered racist bunfight, with shouty poochuckers trying to outdo each other in terms of offensiveness and sheer vileness. But despite the fact that no-one ever wins in this game, I like to remain optimistic that there are a lot of intelligent, insightful people around on the internet; this blog, I like to think, collects quite a few interesting comments which actually add something to the posts above them, and that's something I'm very pleased about.
Besides, if I started dismissing people who comment on messageboards and below news stories entirely (- and yes, there is a 'messageboard cunts' category of post tags on this blog, but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone is, as you'll see by the simultaneous existence of a 'nice people on messageboards for a change' one -) then I would be no better than those folk who decide that all blogs are bad because they're not articles in newspapers, the kind of dismissive and tedious attitude you come up against time and time again when you're a blogger.
All that having been said, though, there are an awful lot of vommenters making vomments underneath things. Take for example this somewhat insipid blog entry from Sky News's Kay Burley:
That's all of it, by the way. I've spared you nothing. Well, it's fairly asinine, isn't it? I don't find anything particularly upsetting about it. It's magnolia; it's Steve. It's OK, but it's not going to rip up any trees. It's a box ticked and a job done. And yet, underneath the stories, people get into an awful tizzy, don't they? Others are just plain bizarre:
Bit of Vandross to keep on Kay's good side there, Khalid. And quite rightly, too.
What? Have another go, Jon.
I like this one as well, not just for the exaggerated ellipsis, though that is of course a treat. It's the way in which it's nothing to do with the story either - even more so than Jon. This story isn't about David Cameron at all, yet Groucho6 can't stop himself from shoehorning in a dig at Dave.
A bit harsh there, I feel, IceKat. I don't think it was really a party political broadcast at all, but people see what they want to see when it comes to these things, I suppose. No need to have a go at poor Kay like that. What's she ever done? Apart from that. Nothing horrible, really.
And here's something of a collector's item - a comment that shows no spite or malice of any kind, and yet which manages somehow to be so dull that you end up almost wanting it to. Still, it could be a lot worse.
In a lot of ways I do love these little hinterlands underneath blog posts and articles; I've inhabited them for many years myself, and it is wrong to dismiss them all as worthless or pointless; sometimes you do end up learning quite a lot. It can tell you a lot about what kind of people are reading what they've seen above - the kind of people that are attracted to Kay Burley's blog. Hmm. I think I'll stick with my readers - I don't get anyone quoting Luther Vandross at me.
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Hello. I'm a Bristol-based writer and soon-to-be-redundant journalist. You can read more about me and the Enemies site here, or follow me on Twitter. Email me if you like - antonvowl at live dot co dot uk
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