Old fashioned


About a year ago, I cancelled my subscription to my beloved Bangor Daily News. Heating oil was on the rise, it seemed prudent to cut corners anyway we could, and since BDN has a website where I could get my news for free, I figured that corner was an easy one to cut. Besides, I could pat myself on the back for being Green. Saving a tree or two. That sort of thing.

This week, however–trees be damned–I started my subscription back up again. Why?

“Reader comments.”

As a writer, I have very strong feelings about the First Amendment. Freedom of speech and all of that. But the bickering and flaming that goes on in too many of these articles’ comments sections makes me wonder whether or not some sort of intelligence test should be administered before allowing individuals to post. Or at the very least that there should be some sort of moderation on these pages.

What finally did me in was an article that was posted on Wednesday, August 13. Last weekend, a young man was stabbed and killed by his apparently mentally ill brother who “thought he and his brother were romantically involved with the same woman.” The article went on to describe how the woman in question, a nurse, tried unsuccessfully to revive her friend by using CPR. I don’t think most of us can begin to imagine what she, and the members of this family and their friends, could possibly be going through right now. And, it seems, many people don’t care, because it took about five minutes from the time this story was posted for the bullshit to start in the comments section; beginning with this gem from a New Yorker:

And here I’ve been thinking that the dating scene in Manhattan is desperate!

Um…rimshot? I mean, seriously, what the hell was this shithead thinking? Perhaps it’s because this is only the latest in a record setting year of domestic violence homicides in Maine that I’m a wee bit oversensitive to this type of comment. Or perhaps it’s because I witnessed a young man who knew both of these young men breaking down in the store on Monday morning when he discovered the news by reading it on the front page of the paper. Or maybe, you know, it’s because I have a fucking heart and a soul and more than a little bit of sympathy and compassion for the family and friends of these men who are suffering a kind of loss I hope I never know, and who will undoubtably have read this idiotic remark.

All I know is that I’ve had enough of it. And so I’ll get my news the old fashioned way. Without a peanut gallery.

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About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

3 responses to “Old fashioned

  • Kit Courteney

    I couldn’t agree more.
    I tried getting my daily dose of news online at the BBC website. With stories such as newly-weds being killed abroad on their honeymoon and young children being abducted you’d think all comments would be of an understanding and/or sympathetic nature… but, no.
    It sickens me to think that there are individuals who make crass and inappropriate comments at such sad times. It’s hard enough to understand why they would even think these things – let alone publish them for all to see.

  • bunnygirl

    I think we’re becoming more heartless as a society. There seem to be a lot of people these days who have no empathy, no compassion, and not enough decency and good manners to refrain from flaunting their lack.

    Then again, maybe the internet just makes it all more easy to see. Who knows?

  • Jen O

    The readers’ comments on the BDN site seriously make me feel so depressed and come to the conclusion that there is no hope for humanity.
    I can’t go to that site anymore!

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