Still thinking about Brian Lowry's article in Variety about the prevalent mob mentality on the Internet, I've come up with something that has slowly helped me understand the nasty, negative vibes. I figured I'd share it here on the Internet, but I think it's better used in person.
Make no mistake, no matter how much I say that negative, anonymous comments don't really carry much editorial weight, they can sting. As someone who stands by the Bruce Campbell attitude about people who send him nice compliments in e-mail form (Someone actually took time out of his or hers day to write and send me this? Cool!), I also am struck by the negative version as well (Someone actually took time out of his or hers day to write and send me this? Whoah, this kinda sucks.).
My solution (aka, the solution that's been working for me) is this: imagine if such an ugly exchange of words were to really happen in person. Would it really be that negative? Chances are it wouldn't be as heated because we're not visualizing the conversation in our heads. Reading by ourselves, we can totally take things the wrong way from their original intention. Plus, the tone of voice is too often lost when words are written over when they are spoken. So, if someone were to rip into me because I don't like Panic! At the Disco as much as him or her, chances are good the person would not really tell me in person to commit an act of self-sodomy with a ten foot pole. If he or she did, the person probably-most-definitely would not really mean it.
Still, people find refuge in spilling their misery into rips, taunts and terse lectures on the Internet. It's the kind of stuff that people tend to downplay in later years, almost always shrugging it off as underlying anger about stuff that had nothing really to do with the conversation itself or the person. Well, I wish I could take refuge in remembering all this right when I read my e-mail, but it's an ongoing process.