This week in Posiel, we discussed the idea of comment sections, and the different motivations people may have for commenting.
This can range from being an expert on a topic and wanting to share your knowledge, to someone who thinks they know what’s going on and wants to help, but really has no clue, all the way to straight up trolls looking to spread fake news and get a rise out of people.
We also discussed how anonymity influences one’s behaviour in a comment section. I found one of our readings this week, by Maria Konnikova, particularly interesting on this matter.
She discusses how while anonymity may seem like a negative thing, as it will most likely increase the number of trolls brought to one’s comment section, it also does a remarkable job at increasing audience participation (Konnikova, 2013).
Additionally, because individual members are unlikely to stand out under anonymity, the overall community identity of the platform also tends to increase (Konnikova, 2013).
This is particularly surprising to me, as I would assume anonymity would diminish community feeling on a site, as there would be less capacity for personalization and ability to develop connections with other members.
My Commenting Habits
I’ve personally never gone anonymous on any platform, as I use social media mainly to engage socially with my friends and family.
However, there are platforms where I do not engage with others and simply consume, such as Twitter.
On these sites, I do believe that I would likely engage more with others if I was anonymous. I stay on as myself though, because anything else would feel inauthentic.
My motivations for this can be linked back to Konnikova’s point of the inability to stand out when commenting anonymously. Whether it’s in person or online, for negative or positive reasons, I’m rarely one to want to stand-out from the crowd.
My Commenting Fail
That being said, I would be lying if I told you I did not stir up some mild controversy on Twitter back in the day…
I am exaggerating of course, but this is my one and only tale of commenting drama so I thought I’d share.
Every summer on Twitter I follow along a popular TV series called Big Brother. This show has a massive fanbase on the platform, and the fans of the show take the game and their favourite players very, very seriously.
At the end of every season there is a fan vote for “America’s Favourite Player”.
So a few years back I stumbled upon a Twitter post (with very few likes and comments may I add), asking who the audience thinks should win this year.
Not realising the intensity of the fanbase, I decided to comment that I think a player named “David” should win. This was clearly a joke, as David was the first eliminated and undoubtedly the weakest player of the season.
Because the post had such little engagement, and I had about 10 followers at the time, I didn’t think twice about commenting this. I figured nobody would see it, and whoever did would know it was a joke.
However, quickly I had slews of people angrily commenting back at me. Telling me I was “stupid” and a “fake fan” for my comment.
This didn’t upset me whatsoever, but I will say that the attention did make me incredibly uncomfortable.
I didn’t like the idea of so many people viewing my comment and having thoughts on it. That wasn’t my intention.
Ever since then, I haven’t engaged in many comment sections. Except for sending some heart eye emojis under my friends’ Instagram posts of course 🙂
However, I hope in the future to become more comfortable with engaging online, especially on topics more important than reality TV shows. Moreover, I believe blogging in this class has helped me with comfortability factor immensely!
Konnikova, M. (2013, October 23). The Psychology of Online Comments. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-psychology-of-online-comments