Hey, remember that time I wrote a piece on how being a Straight White Male means you’re running through life on the lowest difficulty setting, and that piece was republished on the video game news site Kotaku? Well, now Kotaku has also republished my follow-up piece, minus one section that relates specifically to how I administer comments here on Whatever (which is totally reasonable, since, hey, different web site entirely). The Kotaku republished version is here.
Let me also take a moment here to comment on comments. A lot of people have noted the really astounding amount of bile that’s come out of the entries, both here and at Kotaku, and have suggested that the vitriolic nature of the comments suggest that rather than furthering the conversation, the piece fell on its face and/or showed just how unreasonable straight white men generally are on the subject of having their unearned advantages pointed out to them.
Here’s something to consider, however. Between Whatever, Kotaku and the various other Gawker sites that ran the post, the “Lowest Difficulty Setting” post and followup posts have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people to date. The number of people who have commented is probably about one percent of that overall audience; the comments run into the thousands but people often comment more than once. Not everyone who comments is antagonistic to the piece, and even many of those who disagree with the post or have specific complaints express them in cogent and reasonable manner.
All of which is to say that it’s probably not wise to assume that the foamiest of commenters, either here or over at Kotaku, are necessarily representative of the overall readership of the pieces. What they are, however, are the ones most motivated to comment, because of their own basket of personal issues/neuroses/hobby horses/whatever, and many of them have linked in from sites where people of similar personal issues/neuroses/hobby horses/whatever congregate and then set forth to make their views known to people outside their own respective man caves. In this respect, they are like many commenters on many comment threads for pieces on contentious topics.
Shorter version: Don’t freak out at the jackasses in the comments. They’re not representative of the whole crowd. They’re just loud. Outside of that tiny minority, there are lots of other people, many of them straight white males, reading without comment. Some of them are probably coming away from the piece thinking in whole new ways about the issues raised in the pieces. Which is not a bad thing.