Since the creation of social media, our generation has taken to computers and other devices across the world to express their opinions and emotions. These expressions may be on a number of things such as political issues, social discussions or entertainment, Regardless of the topic, these comments have affected the way we view social media and the Internet as a whole, for good and bad.
As a heavy user of social media in its many forms, I know how crazy of a place the comment section of any video, article or photo can be. However, I have only recently started to appreciate the power of comments.
We live in the age of social media where most of our generation stays in the loop of whats going on around us through Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. However, the comment section tends to be overlooked, but if you take the time to read through the comments of any video on YouTube or Facebook, for example, you may find it even more intriguing than the content itself.
Recently, I have witnessed the intense debates held in the comment section, debates that occasionally yield some impressive responses from people just like us. Some of the more coherent and logical comments even receive over hundreds of likes. I could also roughly estimate the amount of support versus opposition that certain videos gathered based on the types of comments people gave.
Now, there are obviously comments out there that try to get negative reactions out of people, which are referred to as “troll” comments, but with the frequent occurrence of these it can become difficult to distinguish between what’s real or what’s just a “troll.” According to Penn State’s social media guidelines, the way to handle these types of comments should be thought out, also that “It is critical that you never take it personal or engage or challenge the person negatively.” The guidelines continue on to say that the reason for this is because everything on the Internet is still public, so you can still be held accountable for what you have written. University of Maryland social media guidelines for the School of Medicine and other colleges within also warn to “refrain from making derogatory remarks online.”
All of these recommendations and rules are strictly enforced at higher education institutions, but in the public realms of the Internet these guidelines are not enforced or necessarily followed.
Nevertheless, there are unique aspects about the way people comment and the context of the comments along with the videos or articles they are in response too. YouTube is one of the biggest examples of how YouTubers develop a relationship with their fan base is through the comments section. PewDiePie, the biggest YouTuber on the Internet, is a prime example of how the comments section transforms into a vessel of communication and support for the maker of the videos. The comments between the maker of the video and the fans even becomes so complex that there are special types of conversations formed throughout the comment section. PewDiePie refers to his subscribers as “Bros” and his salute to his fans is what is known as a “Bro Fist.” This interaction between fans and celebrity becomes a unifying trait to success in social media, which is in part facilitated by comments.
For the most part, social media comments have helped to shape the way people interact on the web on different topics, revealing their opinions. The Internet has become an amazing tool to start conversations on all types of world events and trending topics. I prefer the entertainment side of comments, but the purpose of the comment section stretches well beyond the realm of entertainment into a melting pot of ideas, and occasionally, the good laugh.