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Internet Frees People to Be Rude

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Before I get started, a quick confession: Is this article self-indulgent? Yes, it probably is. I realize I am complaining about people being mean to me, which on the surface, sounds childish. Will it help? Probably not. My purpose in writing this is just to make people think. If you’ve been the victim of such attacks, you’re not the only one out there, and others know how much it sucks. If you are the attacker, I hope you will realize, though I know you probably won’t, that what you type does hurt someone, even if you don’t know them.

I had seen the way people on the internet will write whatever pops into their head, with no consideration for the feelings of others. However, I had never experienced it in any volume firsthand until I wrote a review for the television show The Mentalist last week. The comment sections on both websites where I posted the article were flooded with personal attacks on me.

Were my feelings hurt? Of course! As I’m sure many of yours have been, if you have ever written anything and experienced the same thing. We slave for hours a week for almost no pay and no recognition as a labor of love, and then are shot down with cruel, ill-thought-out attacks.

In my case, I was told I had no education (I am a couple of classes away from a Master’s degree), am full of hate (the word most people use to describe me, even if they don’t like me, is “nice”), and I shouldn’t judge a show by one episode. But aren’t those same people judging me by one review, instead of the 290 I have written in 2010 alone?

Critics are people who criticize. By definition, we are evaluating others’ work. Sometimes, if those people read our articles, their feelings might be hurt. As such, I know I try to be fair. I try to support negative comments with reasons for my opinions, and also put in positives. Sometimes a mean sentence or two may slip in, but I do my best to avoid that, and if I don’t, it’s usually a plea to the network to pull a bad show instead of the many good ones that don’t make it.

Perhaps my review of The Mentalist did not live up to my usual standards. It was a quick review about a show I don’t often watch, and thus lacked detail. I did put in positives, but the commenters certainly didn’t notice them, or pretended not to. It was not one of the reviews of which I am most proud, but as it got much, much more attention than usual, I feel inclined to defend it. I stand by the opinion I put forth. Upon rereading, I don’t think there’s anything I wrote that I would have left out, but I definitely would have done a more thorough job if I knew it would be subjected to such intense scrutiny.

As to the criticisms that I shouldn’t write what I don’t know about, I didn’t. Perhaps I don’t know a particular series that well. But I watch more than enough hours of television to formulate opinions of what is good versus what is bad. I even go to lengths to make sure I am being fair to the genre, even if it’s not one I particularly care about. In the instance I keep coming back to, I wrote almost an entire paragraph outlining my shortcomings of knowledge on the particular show, so readers would know where I stood.

Bottom line, don’t be mean. Just because you don’t know the people you are writing to or about, don’t trash them. The internet can be a great forum for thoughtful debate, or it can be a junior-high-level hate forum. It’s especially easy to be cruel because you don’t have to actually put yourself out there by name to be responded or stood up to. Bullies come out much more quickly when they don’t face retribution.

Please, please, please, be nice to each other. And to me. :)

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Jerome, you’re way too thin-skinned. Man up, will you? This is the Internet, for crying out loud. The “abuse” you’ve suffered pales to laughable insignificance compared to the villification I’ve received at Blogcritics. It goes with the territory. Don’t be such a wimp.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    I never said I had a worst experience than most. I just asked people to think about what they write. I don’t hold out much hope it will change things much, but if we’re lucky, we’ll both get a few less negative comments.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I’m struck by the irony of someone complaining about being treated fairly when they admit they didn’t write a fair review.

    “Perhaps my review of The Mentalist did not live up to my usual standards. It was a quick review about a show I don’t often watch, and thus lacked detail. I did put in positives, but the commenters certainly didn’t notice them, or pretended not to. It was not one of the reviews of which I am most proud, but as it got much, much more attention than usual, I feel inclined to defend it. I stand by the opinion I put forth. Upon rereading, I don’t think there’s anything I wrote that I would have left out, but I definitely would have done a more thorough job if I knew it would be subjected to such intense scrutiny.”

    Perhaps it was the fact that your original review wasn’t up to your usual standard that prompted the hostile comments you received…

  • Chris

    I don’t get you would change nothing in the article if you had the chance… I mean, you admit you havent done enough research, but still, based on that insufficient research you say the show should have been cancelled many seasons ago? Thats a statement you can’t make based on watching 2 episodes! You should at least admit that! (sorry for my poor english!)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    One of the most imbecilic things a person can say is “man-up” and/or call someone a wimp. Such actions deserve more criticism, not less.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    As my step-son just said, “Some people should ‘brain-up’. A worthwhile man wouldn’t say such things.”

  • Jerome Wetzel

    Cindy: That is fantastic! I have never heard that before. Thank your step-son for me.

    Christopher Rose: I never said the review wasn’t fair. I just didn’t spend as much time watching the show as I do the almost all of the other series I write about. I still think it was a fair assessment of the show’s episodes that I’ve seen.

    Chris: The show doesn’t deserve to be on the air, especially compared with much better, recently cancelled offerings (Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies spring to mind). If those who sprung to it’s defense admitted that this was just a bad episode, I would give it another chance, but I have heard no one say that in nearly one hundred comments on two sites, so I assume that it is a fair representation of the series, and as such, I stand by that opinion.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Just an FYI – “The Mentalist” fucking sucks!

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Jerome, we shall just have to disagree about your approach.

    You say you didn’t give it as much time as you do other shows, I say that shows in your review and explains the negative reaction it generated in fans…

  • KELLY UK

    Jerome

    that feeling you have of being attacked!! well maybe some of the comments you received were personal, i haven`t read them,but i would say this if you have received over 100 comments from people upset by your review of the Mentalist, which you say is not one of your reviews you are most proud of, and attracted much more attention than usual, then maybe you should take three steps back and ask yourself why did so many people respond in such a harsh way towards you could it be this is in fact one of the most watched shows in the usa and other countries,and maybe you should watch at least the first series or most of it, so you can make an informative view of the show.just a suggestion.

  • doug m.

    You demonstrate you know little about TV so it’s odd that you write about it. To say the shows you like are better based on the fact that you like them is laughable and reveals a bit of ignorance on your part.

    A show deserves to be on TV based on how much money it generates, plain and simple, which is why they keep track of ratings. Unless you are a Neilsen family, it doesn’t matter what you like or watch.

    If you are going to knock a show you know little about, which insults its audience, you shouldn’t complain when they react with insults back, especially when you do it on the Internet. Don’t you know that medium works either?

  • Nicole

    Jerome, why are you complaining? When the team behind a TV show puts its work out there for people to view, they might expect some criticism, as you should when you post a review. Your review of The Mentalist was poor, as you now admit, but the comments posted were in the main well thought out. I hope you learn from this experience and will not be so lazy with your reviews in the future.

  • Jerome Wetzel

    Kelly – Popular does not equal good. If it did, then Dancing With the Stars would not get so many viewers. And all 100 comments weren’t negative; some were legitmate comments discussing what happened in the episode.

    Doug M – I never claimed my opinions were fact. However, to say a show deserves air time just because it makes money is an opinion I strongly disagree with. Money does not equal quality.

    Nicole – I never said my review was poor. And the comments I am complaining about were not the slightest bit well thought out. I spend many, many hours a week working on watching and reviewing television for very little pay. Before you launch another personal attack (such as calling some one lazy), I ask that you know what you’re talking about first. Which was the point of the article you just commented on, obviously without reading and / or understanding it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Jerome, you’re only making it worse. Does the term crybaby ring any bells?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    Alan – Read the article.

  • Chris

    Like is said before, i don’t think you can make a fair assesment based on watching 2 episodes! You totally missed the important parts in your review! For those things you will need to really underdstand the underlying story/feeling. I do agree very good series have been cancelled lately! I LOVED Eli Stone, a very special serie like none i had seen in a long time! But still, you should not start making remarks like that. I personally don’t like Castle(and i have watched about 5 episodes), still i do not say it should be cancelled. Especially since a lot of people DO like it.

  • Chris

    And btw, I am telling you you havent done enough research, and you simply reply by saying what you said before, based on your insufficient research…

  • KELLY UK

    jerome
    so popular does not equal good,in your opinion i will add..therefore shows that are top in the viewers ratings are not neccessarily good, just popular, are you saying crap shows get top viewer ratings,or are you just saying that the 14 to 17 million usa viewers who watch the mentalist every week don`t think the show is good.. god why do broadcasters bother just put any old thing out there, we viewers will just watch it,it doesn`t have to be good,,just accept that you did not do enough homework on this one [Edited].

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    I point to the glut of reality television to prove my point. And stop it with the insults. Read the article above.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I think I can make a fair assessment of The Mentalist without watching ANY episodes! The Mentalist probably sucks like 96.543% of everything on TV. Even shows I like generally suck. Because TV itself pretty much sucks. It’s an indoctrination box owned by the elite that keeps people busy and unquestioning so they don’t revolt.

    The best review would say this: TV sucks, throw out your TV set, go out and live life.

    [Edited]

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    I just read The Mentalist thread and you should have given up while you were behind. Whenever you dismiss something people invest time in and feel passionate about, like a TV show or a band, its fans are going to react, some times fiercely, especially on the Internet. You should have agreed to disagree and moved on. Responding to with comments is only going to continue the conversation, and this post certainly doesn’t help your case.

    “to say a show deserves air time just because it makes money is an opinion I strongly disagree with”

    You can disagree with it all you like, but it makes you look like you don’t understand the TV business. Notice that second word because it’s the most important one. Series stay around because they make money, not because you and your friends think they are cool.

    You may not be aware of it but you come off as awfully snobby. For the people who enjoy it, DWTS is a good show, and they make up a larger group than those who thought Eli Stone was good so why do you think what you think is good trumps what others think is good?

    Like what you like, and I haven’t watched any of the shows mentioned above, but you apparently haven’t learned anything from the other thread or even this article.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “go out and live life” says a woman who spends a good deal of time on this Internet site.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Oh, guess I should have just called Alan a wimp, a crybaby and said he should grow a pair and ‘man-up’ that all would have been acceptable.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Okay, El-B, I will change that to: go out and live life, or stay home and talk to people on the internet and live life. Or is talking to people on the internet equal to watching Cops on TV?

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Taking into consideration the conversations that have taken place here over the years, quite a few have reminded me of incidents on “Cops”.

  • STM

    Kurtz: “Jerome, you’re only making it worse. Does the term crybaby ring any bells?”

    When Alan was about five, his mother realised he was lachrymose intolerant.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    I’m leaving town for the holiday weekend, so I won’t be responding to any more comments on this thread. I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    25 – lol

  • Chris

    I don’t get a asnwer anymore? =(

  • STM

    Jerome: “I’m leaving town for the holiday weekend, so I won’t be responding to any more comments on this thread.”

    That’s a bit rude of you Jerome; you can always answer them when you come back.

  • H6

    Don’t you love the internet? I’ve always thought about pulling a Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back when they track down and beat up all the people that insulted them on the internet.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    H6 – LOL! Love those two!

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