Lately I have been spending more and more time on reading through blogs, message boards and the like. And there are a number of habits that seem to permeate through all of them.
When you are talking with someone who is actually physically present in front of you, there's a sense of moderation in you. Even if you want to speak your mind, you speak it in a civil manner. Well, atleast most of the time. Unless you are an exception. I find that almost universally the opposite happens on the net. Its as if being on the net, anonymous, opens up the Hyde part of you. Or maybe thats just the projection you want to make others see you as. Who knows, perhaps the vilest people on the net are the meekest, most introverted people you see around you. And being a malevolent alpha-male is what they fantasize about.
Worse yet is the fanboy culture on sites involving comics. Possibly the same culture is also present on sites involving games, movies etc but I am more versed in sites about comics. Take for example Newsarama. Statements like "If you don't like this, you don't have any heart", "The kids suck, kill them", " That editor is a moron, kill him" are ubiquitous. Would you actually make such a statement if you were on a public forum , physically present. Do people who make such statements actually ask questions like "Why do I say such things on the net, if I don't do it in real life" or are the thought processes more like "My boss yelled at me, so I'll take out all my frustrations on character X or person X".
Constructive criticism is a thing of fiction as far as Message boards go. They are present on blogs but they are more or less individual points of view. Often comments on blogs follow the same pattern present on message boards and hence have to be moderated. And people ask why comic book fans have such a stereotyped image. When the discussion most participated in, is about who has the bigger rack, or who'll defeat whom in a one-on-one battle, what else do you expect.
By the way, if there is actually a place where healthy discussions about comics take place, please point me the way.