Friday, 21 May 2010
All hail the Keyboard Warrior.
The Keyboard Warrior is great.
The Keyboard Warrior is fantastic.
The Keyboard Warrior is cool.
The Keyboard Warrior is a total arse!
Some of you may wonder what I am talking about. Allow me to enlighten you.
If you browse internet forums, write a blog or, perhaps, are a member of social networking site like Facebook, then the chances are that you have encountered or certainly will encounter a Keyboard Warrior at some stage in your online life.
And you will certainly know when you have.
What is a Keyboard Warrior?
It is basically a person who chooses to remain anonymous and travels around cyberspace, disembarking from their luxury browser onto a web site that allows feedback, comment or communication of some kind and then, rather than being civil, explodes in a fireball of rage and writes cutting, cruel and sometimes vicious things, taking out their pent up anger on poor innocent fellow internet travellers who might have written something that in some tiny way offended them.
Or he may just do it for a laugh.
I have been a victim of such a person although this particular Keyboard Warrior chose not to address me directly. I wrote a blog post about how Mr Hugh Laurie, currently a serious actor in a very popular American series called House, was once a comedy actor. Basically, not being a fan of House, I exposed his earlier works to a global audience (well those people out there who may have stumbled unwittingly on my blog) and said that, to me at least, he will always be “Stupid Prince George” from Blackadder. You can read it here
This didn’t go down very well in Russia. I didn’t exactly unleash a major international incident but I did seriously annoy a Russian Keyboard Warrior hiding behind the pseudonym Swallow. Basically Swallow said that I was a moron and that he/she hated people from my country (“I hate you Brits”). Whatever I wrote made Swallow “shake with indignation.”
I have also suffered a little on other forums. Occasionally, I have posted something that is slightly controversial, usually veiled in humour, and then been assaulted using words that I certainly cannot repeat here.
On one occasion, I commented on an American blog, where the author had written a fairly nasty post President Obama. I was flabbergasted, so, foolishly, I said something along the lines of “Don’t be so hard on your new President; he’s better than the last one.” There was nothing bad in my comment at all.
However, the response I received was full of pure venom; I was accused of “breath-taking arrogance”, accused of being a “f****ing communist” and told in no uncertain terms that I should “rot in my f***ing socialist state”. I was tempted to reply but that would have made things much worse.
I have read blog posts written by people that have, for one reason or another, attracted absolutely incredibly vicious comments from certain Keyboard Warriors who have quite simply misunderstood the point of the post or just decided to lash out for reasons best understood by themselves.
I moderate comments on my own blog and now I am glad I do.
The reason I did that initially was because I was paranoid and thought that my friends would discover the blog and perhaps post something embarrassing about me or reveal other things I did not want the whole world to see.
The truth is rather more bizarre; I have ended up revealing enough embarrassing things about myself to make anybody blush. I have been my own worst enemy.
Since seeing how other bloggers have suffered, I reckon comment moderation is probably a good thing. I do try to allow every comment but have discarded a couple in the past because they have been from Keyboard Warriors.
One particular comment that I discarded said something like:
“This blog is f****ing terrible. It is poorly laid out, badly written and utterly pointless. If I were you, I would scrap it and do something worthwhile. It is totally shit”.
My first reaction was to laugh out loud. I assumed it was a mate trying to wind me up, but then I checked who had visited the blog and worked out that the comment came from America. I don’t mind criticism but something like that simply didn’t deserve to be aired – although I have done just that – D’OH!!!
Imagine receiving a comment like that when you had just started out and were looking for constructive comments? It would potentially be soul destroying. If you are just starting out on the road to blog heaven and require some feedback then a nasty comment will almost certainly make you reconsider. Worse, it makes you question yourself and possibly make a rash decision to abandon your blog, based solely on the terrible opinions of an anonymous Keyboard Warrior who, for some insane reason, has it in for you.
If the comment I had received had said something like:
“This blog could use some improvement. First of all, the layout is a bit bland and you’re writing could also be improved. What I would do if I were you, would be too reconsider the layout, perhaps putting in a few pictures and taking a little bit more time on your posts, rereading them and refining them rather than rushing them out.”
I certainly don’t want to censor any comments at all. In fact, I would prefer people to offer constructive criticism – and preferably not anonymously.
While surfing the internet I have landed on some truly dreadful blogs but I have resisted saying that I hate them, for the simple reason that it would almost certainly offend the person who wrote the blog. Why would anybody want to do that?
If you don’t like the blog then don’t read it. It’s simple really – it’s not rocket science.
While the Keyboard Warrior might use his internet browser as a warship, sailing on a calm internet sea, attacking anything he can with his nasty weaponry, he should perhaps consider the effect he has on those he is aggressive to.
I know of at least one blogger who has considered giving up because of constant attacks from anonymous and cowardly Keyboard Warriors. I have also heard of instances where the Keyboard Warrior’s ferocity has had a physical effect causing the victim to do something even more extreme.
Such things amaze me. I am not a nasty person at all and I simply cannot fathom how anybody can write such awful things. If I disagree with a blog post, or the sentiments in a blog post, then I will either ignore it or engage in a form of dialogue by posting my thoughts in a friendly and constructive way, with a little humour, while at the same time, posting details of my blog so that the person in question can pop along and see where I am coming from.
I will conclude with this thought.
If I were being vindictive I would say that a serial Keyboard Warriors is simply a coward. My theory would be that most of these people haven’t got the courage to identify themselves and face the consequences of their words. I could, for example, imagine a spotty little nerd hiding in a quiet little room all alone, angry that he has no friends and lashing out at anybody and everybody in order to get a warped sense of satisfaction at hurting an unknown person’s feelings. Perhaps he is bullied and rather than standing up to the bully he lashes out at innocent bloggers.
If you are such a Keyboard Warrior, and my theory is correct, then imagine the horror if a victim of your nastiness somehow managed to find out who you were or where you lived. You might actually crap your pants when you think of the consequences of your actions.
Of course, I may be wrong; the Keyboard Warrior may simply have anger management problems or have had a bad day at the office.
If you are tempted to be a Keyboard Warrior, folks, please reconsider. It is much better to express your opinions in a civil manner without the need to resort to maliciousness and vitriolic comments. Take a deep breath, ponder the post that has annoyed you and walk away from the keyboard.
You will feel better for it and everybody will be happy.