THE LATEST
The Real Problem with
Public Discourse

Mrpoophispants is no Humphrey Ploughjogger.

By Michael Lind

I distinctly remember when I stopped reading online comments about my essays. For some time I had been reading them on a website of a magazine that published me and allowed unedited comments. To my disappointment, no knowledgeable critic had pointed out errors in my work that I could correct, or made informed arguments that forced me to rethink my position. The commenters seemed more interested in insulting one another.

Mrpoophispants, for example. The avatar that went with the name showed a wailing baby in diapers. (I have changed the name and image slightly, to protect the guilty). In the comments section under my essay, Mrpoophispants accused the Incredible Hulk (again, I have slightly changed the name) of being like Hitler. No, the green and musclebound Hulk told the baby in diapers, you are like Hitler. It went downhill from there.

I remember thinking: Really, who insults people online while hiding behind the screen name of Mrpoophispants? Around that time I had read about the case of a well-respected dentist who was outed as a notorious online troll. (And you wonder what your doctors are doing, while they keep you waiting — they are writing snarky comments about newspaper columnists and TV anchors). I had also read that online commenters are disproportionately middle-aged and elderly men. This information helped me to imagine my online commenter’s alter ego, his Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne:

I thought of Mrpoophispants when I read Jonathan Chait’s widely-discussed essay for New York magazine, “Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say,” and Glenn Greenwald’s response, “The Petulant Entitlement Syndrome of Journalists.” For what is worth, I think both get a lot right — but they also get some things wrong.



Continue Reading...
DAILY WIRE -

•   Japan: A knack for exporting itself
•   Space for Islam among the stars
•   An era of unrivaled gluttony
•   Writers write about writers
•   A glut of arts journalism?
Drexel.edu
RECENT ARTICLES
Pertinent & Impertinent
On Snow It is as beautiful as any garden, and as inescapable as ourselves.
Ideas
Stumbling on the Sublime In the etchings of Turner and Moran at the New York Public Library, finding transcendence in the small and unexpected.
Idle Chatter
California Dreamin' Larry Sultan's photos capture, tenderly, the paradise of Southern California – and the tensions and desires that complicate it.
Ideas
From Poesy to Carrot Carnations When arts die, they turn into hobbies.
Lost & Found
Master Pieces Cyril Connolly set out to write a masterpiece, but he'd been writing it all along.
Visual Studies
Public Eyes The internet has changed how we look at photos. Can it also help us reimagine the history of photography?
Idle Chatter
The Sound of Scham The stories in Lydia Davis' Can't and Won't are strange, sparse, and emotionless – and manic, portentous, and utterly devastating.
Journeys
All Beans, No Tomatoes A week in the life of a food vendor in Djibouti
   
Most Viewed
- On 50 years of Rankin and Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. By Colin Fleming
- Life – and Emerson – tried to lure the naturalist John Muir back to the world. But his home was always the American wild. By Stefany Anne Golberg
- I had morning milking duty at my Hershey, PA boarding school. But when I went back to see the cows, they were gone. By Albert DiBartolomeo


Available Smart Set RSS Feed
Looking for a Smart Set article?