June 30, 2017

Uninformed Outrage: Reacting Without Reading

Smiling pit bull terrier at camp pendletonHere's a quick thought that will strike most of you as incredibly obvious: if you are going to comment on a blog post, newspaper article, YouTube video, or some other content you encounter online, read/watch it first. I know, this should go without saying. The thing is, people seem to be doing this with increasing frequency. It is now unusual for me to make it through a day without someone contacting me via social media or email to react to something I've shared, only to have the content of their reaction make it apparent that they never read the content to which they are reacting. This is different from someone misunderstanding what they've read or disagreeing with what they've read; this is reacting without having read it at all.

I won't pretend to understand the motivation behind this. I'll limit myself to commenting on what it looks like. And what it looks like is that the other party is reacting (often angrily) to the title of the post or article without bothering to read the post or article. In some cases, those who do this have admitted to me that this is exactly what they were doing. Had they bothered to read the damn post or article, they might have discovered that they agreed with it!

Why would anybody do this? Do they not realize this undermines whatever credibility they might have had, leaving almost zero chance that they'll be taken seriously? Does any content creator give a damn about what someone who hasn't read/viewed his or her content thinks about it? Why would anyone value a completely uninformed opinion?

I know I am not the only blogger who encounters this regularly. Godless Mom and Laughing in Disbelief have both reported similar experiences. I don't have any objective data that it is getting worse, but it was quite rare just a couple years ago. It probably didn't happen more than once a month. Now, it is an almost daily occurrence.

Nobody asked for my advice on the subject, but I'll offer it anyway. If you'd like others to take you seriously and value your opinions, don't do this. If you are inclined to share an angry comment or social media post based solely on the title of an article or post you haven't read, you should not expect to be taken seriously. You are providing a reaction without a basis (aside from the title), and it is entirely possible that others will judge you as a moron for doing so.
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