Posted by: martinworster | July 24, 2009


There’s something about the annonymity of the internet that brings out the worst in people. As if when faceless and nameless, our true identity in all it’s wretched lameness is laid bare. I’m thinking of two examples where this is most visible; on web forums and eBay.


Forums – there’s something about the ability to post messages at the end of articles, YouTube clips, shopping sites, reviews, wherever, that really brings out a nasty, bitchy streak in humanity. Proving each other wrong, laughing at factual errors, sneeringly correcting typos or any other miniscule mistake or difference of opinion – it’s downright heinous miserableness. One of the worst cases is on the Charlie Brooker ‘Comment Is Free’ blog on The Guardian. Now I think Mr Brooker is a funny writer – if a bit sad and bitter. But then I can relate to that. We both clearly need to get out more. But when I read the comments AFTER his articles I really got angry. It’s a severe case of ‘clever dickedness’ – everyone trying to out do the other. ‘Aren’t I clever?’ ‘Look at me, I know more than you!’ Like a room full of spotty prefects wanking each other off in mutual smug cleverness. 


eBay – I could talk a lot about the serfdom that is known as eBay. One of the worst things about it is the feedback system. I know it’s there for a reason – to keep customers happy and ensure high levels of customer service are maintained. But it really brings out the worst in buyers as they have the power to leave ‘negative’ feedback – and as a result will really hold sellers to task on everything and anything. People expect free shipping and for anything they bought to arrive the next day, perfectly packed, smelling of roses – or else. It brings out a nasty slant of consumer extremism – Neo-Nazi shoppers who are never happy. The customer isn’t always right in my opinion.


So many sites now encourage users to leave product reviews – that also annoys me. It’s free content. Why not also let the users program the site and do all the shipping for you AS WELL whilst you sit back and count the money? What happened to a team of well paid, professional reviewers? Admittedly sometimes customer reviews are very useful for their unbiased honesty. Sites like Trip Advisor – which I use and think is useful for hotel reviews and the like. But then I think what type of person has the time to write acres of text on a review of their week in Benidorm? And then often consumer extremism comes out – ‘our hotel was right next to a noisy disco so we couldn’t sleep’. Well get out and enjoy yourself, you’re on holiday you hapless halfwit, get in the poxy disco and get lucky, it might cheer you up. 


What sort of person writes all these consumer reviews? The same person who would call into a late night radio ‘problem’ chat show with all their relationship problems. Right, what’s Dr Kenner’s number on Radio One again?


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