Thursday, October 06, 2011

Has the internet stolen our manners?

Image source

I read an online article* today about a body transformation. Not the usual "biggest loser" type story, but one about a woman who went from being a model (*ahem* - of the Page 3 Girl variety...) to a bodybuilding competitor.

The story itself was fairly innocuous; not judgmental at all, really. Although I have my own opinion about the reason they chose the photos they ran with the story. But it was the large number of comments that the post generated that made me a bit hot under the collar.

I was reminded of the general ignorance surrounding bodybuilding - especially women's bodybuilding. The stupid assumptions were irritating enough, but the bulk of the comments were downright rude. Here are a few examples:

In a word, gross……

But honestly, it’s not a natural look by any stretch of the imagination (steroid use – possibly?). I just don’t see this as an attractive look.

Chuck-a-rama. Not attractive. At all. Yuck !

i don’t know when she looks worse before or after… and imagine all the steroids that she took… yuck

There were many, many more along those lines, but you get the idea. As I said, the ignorant assumptions were bad enough, but the tone of the comments was a whole other thing. 

I started to wonder: Do the commenters not understand that they're writing about a real person, who has feelings just like them? Maybe she'll never read their nasty opinions anyway, but what if she did? How would the writers like it if a hundred or so strangers all blurted out their uncensored opinion about THEM?

I thought back to comments I've made about celebrities or other people featured in various online stories and started to wonder if I'd ever been just as rude. I hope not... In future I'll certainly make an effort to remember to be polite. 

If you've perused my Fine Print page, you'll notice that I have a policy of not publishing comments I feel are offensive or abusive. Some sites seem to thrive on promoting all-in verbal brawls amongst commenters, but this isnt one of them.

Perhaps the internet needs Tom Cruise to hang out in comment areas and remind folks who step over the line to put their manners back in

What's your take on comments? Is anyone fair game? Perhaps celebrities, but not ordinary people? Or should we turn on our "keep yourself nice" filter before approaching the keyboard?


*I'm not linking to the article because they've had quite enough traffic and I'm not about to send any more their way.


Tara @ Sweat like a Pig said...

I love that you wrote about this! The attitude from most of the readers was incredibly rude, but it wasn't unexpected. I'm used to seeing a negative response to bodybuilders. I think perhaps a lot of people feel threatened by female bodybuilders who are obviously strong and dedicated, and most people in general do not fully understand the complexities of the industry.

Kek said...

Yep, I'm used to it too, Tara. Which doesn't make it OK.

I was floored by the people who told me I was "too skinny", or who wrinkled up their noses and stated that they thought bodybuilders looked ugly, when I was prepping for my comps.

Nobody EVER said "God, you're so FAT!" when I weighed 90 or so kg. They wouldn't dare.... so why was it alright to comment negatively on my body in this case?

Kathryn said...

I found the article and comments offensive not because it was targetting bodybuilders but all women.

That site and the woman behind it have this whole public attitude of promoting positive body image but the reality of what they post is so far from that.

While this article didn't actually say anything disparaging about the woman featured, just the fact of them (since the writer was "mamamia team") posting it is putting her body up there for comment. How does that promote any kind of positive body image?

If someone is 200kg overweight or a body builder or any shape they please, if they get tattoos or piercings - their body, their business. If someone wanted to promote a positive body image, they'd address the issue of actually NOT commenting and NOT judging anyone else's body rather than encouraging just that.

That's my rant anyway :)

Kek said...


Wow, well said, Kathryn!

I have similar feelings about that site - I didn't actually notice that this particular article was written by the "team". I did think that the choice of a particularly muscular-looking shot (abs flexed to buggery) to head the story was intentional to draw as many negative comments as possible, and start a good old comments bun-fight.

I enjoy some of the stuff that's written over there, but much of it just makes me roll my eyes. And the bitchiness amongst the commenters is really OTT. You just nailed the uncomfortable feeling I have about the site but haven't quite been able to articulate with this:

That site and the woman behind it have this whole public attitude of promoting positive body image but the reality of what they post is so far from that.

*high fives you*

Cherub said...

I've been listening to the audio book of Wayne Dyer's The Secrets of The Power of Intention.

He speaks of many things but one comment was, that what you say about a person doesn't make it true. Your comment's are not a reflection of them but instead a reflection of you. (or something like that).

He talks about being kind and how that act can improve the mood and potentially the life, of the recipient, the giver (the kind person) and even an observer.

He also says be the kindness you wish to receive.

There is no place for nasty, hurtful comments. By all means express an opinion but be respectful about it.

Were they never told "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".

Kek said...

Perhaps they didn't have our mums, Claire? ;)

Love this:

...what you say about a person doesn't make it true. Your comment's are not a reflection of them but instead a reflection of you.

That's similar to what I've told clients time and time again when they cop flack from friends or relatives about their change of lifestyle. The negative comments are usually prompted by uncomfortable feelings the speaker has about themselves, not about the person they're criticising.


Miss Positive said...

Hi Kek, I've never commented here before, but I just wanted to say that I definitely think that the internet has stolen our manners!

I'm constantly amazed at the rudeness of some internet comments, whether it be the article you're referring to, or comments on some pregnancy forums that I sometimes read, or on Facebook "fan pages" that I'm subscribed to (and am thinking about unsubscribing to, purely from the rude comments of other posters).

Yes its fine to have our own opinion, but I dont understand why so many people have to be so negative and nasty about them.

There is enough negativity in the world, without adding more!


Kek said...

Hi Hilary, thanks for your comment! :)

Facebook fan pages are certainly a minefield. They attract so many NASTY people - I can't believe some of the things that are said. I was subscribed to Katrina & Amie's FB page while The Block was on, and MAN! The comments made my jaw drop.

It's perfectly OK to voice a different opinion about something, but there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

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