Pete Davison: Acrid Black Smoke

Posted on April 14, 2011 by

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Earlier today, a story broke that divided opinions somewhat. The point and content of the story at this stage isn’t especially important or relevant to what I’m particularly interested in right now, but the gist of the arguments that people are having is that it was a report based on anonymous sources that sounded like “just another rumour”.

And perhaps it was. Or perhaps it wasn’t. Anonymous sources aren’t the most convincing sources of information to some people, thanks mostly to their anonymity. But these are people who would likely be immediately fired if their names were attached to things which are—presumably—supposed to stay secret for now.

Again, not the point I’m trying to make.

The point I am trying to make is the surprising amount of negativity the story in question attracted, and the subsequent high-school clique-style bitching and sniping that ensued on Twitter between high-profile members of the industry for the next few hours. People laugh and joke about passive-aggressive status updates from people who want to bitch about someone without naming them—”I wish SOMEONE would stop being such a jackass!”—but this was taking it to a whole new level, with, in some cases, high profile representatives of respected publications taking the passive-aggressive approach and arguing with thin air, presumably to try and make some kind of point.

I’m not going to name and shame anyone because there’s no point in doing that and it wouldn’t achieve anything. All I am going to say is that any time something like this erupts, I’m surprised and disappointed in people. Perhaps the story in question will turn out to be nothing—or perhaps it will turn out to be something big. Regardless, it was a rumour, and an interesting one at that, and people will want to know it. The original article made it very clear that it was a rumour based on things that anonymous sources had said. People can make their own minds up whether or not to believe it, but there’s really no need for all the bitching and sniping.

It is, sadly, a hallmark of the Internet, though; comment sections were described on a radio show earlier today as “the bottom half of the Internet” due to their relentless negativity—a fact which made Charlie Brooker sit up and take notice, unsurprisingly. But why? Why the hate? Why the behaving like teenage girls?

Perhaps I’m just too much of a nice guy. I don’t hate anyone, and I respect the work of others. I’ll slag something off if it’s genuinely bad, but I don’t hate things for the sake of hating them like some people seem to. And whatever the reason for people’s reactions to the story which broke earlier (still not getting into it!) there’s certainly no reason for the ugly and thinly-disguised jealousy which has been evident this evening.

If people could just be a bit nicer to each other and a bit less negative about everything, the whole world would be a much more pleasant place.

It’s nice to want things.

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Posted in: Pete Davison