Assorted Rules of the Internet (How Comments Work)

I didn't bother to write this post during the election, partially because it would have been useless and partially because I assumed the rough language would calm down. Given that at least one of those was wrong (see also: my Facebook notifications over the last couple of weeks) I've decided to assemble some (but not all) of the rules of the internet, and especially how comments work. Buckle up, kids: it's time for some facts. 

  1. Speaking of facts, know some. Have articles. Randomly saying things makes you look like a dumb-dumb. Know how to distinguish a real news site from a fake one. Several people in my news feed are guilty of this. As a refresher course: if it claims anyone who is not a literal fallen angel is Satan, an American is the founder of ISIS, or climate change is bunk, it is not a legitimate news source. 
  2. ALL CAPS IS (almost always) READ AS YELLING. In other words, if you claim to be reasonable and use all caps, you're vastly deceived. You've neglected to consider how you will be read. Beyond that, it's rude. If you would not lean in real close and scream that word, don't capitalize it unless you're sure it needs the emphasis. 
  3. Bad grammar is mentally associated with bad logic by most people with decent grammar. I am not claiming this is fair. I've noticed a frightening commonality: the worst grammar I see on my Facebook is posted by the strongest conservatives on my timeline. If you are conservative, I don't want your points out-of-hand, but I can promise that will happen. An occasional slip is one thing, but long threads of babble/no caps/ ALL CAPS/Random cAps/poor commas or comma spaces , /etc. make you look unnecessarily stupid. 
  4. If you don't agree with a post, you are not obligated to comment. 
  5. Even if your page is private, anyone with access to the post (friends of friends, or anyone if the profile is public) can see your comments. If you would not be willing to explain yourself to anyone alive, you should not put it on the internet. 
  6. Deleting comments only kind of makes them go away. People can take screenshots, and those can be damning. 
  7. Real people are behind the computer, which is also why Facebook doesn't exactly work like a public forum: people forget real people are out there. I can assure you there are real people eating popcorn while hate is spewed. 
  8. If you would spew hate with no facts in person, you should not be on the internet. It can severely damage careers.
  9. If you didn't read the article, don't comment. 
  10. If someone is an expert in the field they are talking about, lead with questions, not attacks.