Criticism in the internet age: substance vs. "meh"
For your consideration:
In reference to many of the comments that I have seen following Laura's interesting exploration into the meaning of an internet meme to her, and the puzzle of tracing authorship of a given piece of "pop culture." (Shopping Metallica)
I wanted to put this out there not just for the folks that disliked the piece and felt it was "pointless" but for anyone that reads any article on the Verge and feels that they need to respond negatively. What is it about an internet social environment, such as the comments section of a post, that makes you feel as though it is your duty to review the content in such a meaningless and rude manner?
Commentary is good. People make whole livings out of it. Movies, music, literature; every media has a critical journalism that is its counterpoint. It is even more evident with the pervasive nature of the internet. Anyone can be a critic of anything that they choose to now. But true criticism in this sense is not the 140 character tweetable response that is the knee-jerk reaction to something that we do or don't like. That is essentially pressing the "like" button on Facebook.
"I feel compelled to weigh in on this, but not enough to add substance."
So we, the readers, get:
"Who fucking cares?"
I fucking care. So do the authors. So do the editors.
Creation takes time. That doesn't mean that anything created has inherent value to anyone beyond the creator just because of the labor involved in its creation. However, creation is something to be respected, in my opinion.
I have watched the development of a culture in the comment threads of the internet. A culture where it is ok to trash something in the most fundamental way possible: to call it irrelevant in as few words as possible just because it is there.
Meh is fundamentally what these "critics" are saying. Not the well reasoned analysis and valuation that is the journalistic counterpoint I mentioned earlier. Rather the verbal equivalent of someone spray painting an X over a Banksy.
If you wish to deride the article you have just read, at least put some content into the discussion. Tell us why you felt it was a meaningless piece of drivel. Use more than a one word social vocabulary to explain your feelings so that others might actually gain something from having read your comment and the author might know better next time how to enrich their creation, or at the very least be able to address the concern you have for the work you just commented on.
Enrich the environment you spend so much time in rather than destroying it with verbal hand grenades that are less interesting and more hurtful than you think.
Thank you Josh, Laura, and all of the rest of you wonderful Verge editors and contributors out there for making such a great publication. An online magazine that is not just about technology but about the technological world in which we live. Thank you for creating and letting all of us amateur critics take shots at your work. Thank you for being thick-skinned and good spirited. Thank you for taking true criticism to heart and responding to us, your readers.
As for the rest of us: let us be held to a higher standard. To create rather than to deride. To enrich, rather than to flippantly dismiss. To counteract the culture of "Meh" and reshape it in to something better.
Thank you in advance.