(Yes: stupid, asinine, and dumb-ass are synonyms.)
I came across a set of online comments from people who had visited Carlsbad Caverns a few years ago. Understand that this group of caves is considered a spectacular natural wonder.
One of the comments complained that the caves were too dark and said they should turn on more lights if they’re going to take people through the caves. When I finished laughing, I did something I’d never done before: I began looking for other comments from the same reviewer. Guess what? S/he was negative about everything! In fact, not merely negative—just plain nasty. I wouldn’t take face-to-face advice from someone like that. Why would I give these posts any credence?
Sports sites are particularly prone to not only negativity but also questionable language. That might be something to be seriously concerned about, except that half the time, the commenters can’t even spell the insults they’re writing! It just makes them look silly; I want to pat them on the head and say, “Here’s a cookie. Go play somewhere else, honey.”
I don’t worry about the mechanics of writing in text conversations and quick online comments, and I certainly don’t worry about misspelling in a message to a friend or family member. But when my name or my company’s name appears with the message in a more public setting, you’d better believe I proofread. We are a language services provider, after all.
What concerns me more than correctness is the persistent and growing negativity. Pity the hotelier who has to constantly check online reviews and respond to comments like There was a spot on the carpet or I had to actually ask for more towels. As a frequent traveler, I’ve learned to read comments only from sites that make sure a reviewer has actually stayed at the property, and not to trust one reviewer’s uncorroborated negative opinion.
I also discount comments about issues over which the hotel has no control. I read one review that complained heartily that the guest couldn’t sleep because of the fireworks display outside. On the Fourth of July weekend.
In a broader context, the growing negativity surrounding current political campaigns and news reporting in general is becoming troubling. Unemployment is down, but people are stuck in jobs they don’t like. The candidate for City Council has proposed a great new program, but 10 years ago his wife’s cousin was arrested for shoplifting. The humidity has finally broken and it will be a lovely weekend, but the mosquito population is surely on the rise. Leading economic indicators are on the rise, but we could be on the verge of another recession because . . . .
I’m certainly not suggesting we all become Pollyannas—nothing but good news all the time. But could we are least take a breath before finding the dark side of everything? I’m sure anyone reading this has seen articles lauding the accomplishments of a particular political candidate, then heard the opposing candidate frame the exact same accomplishment in terms of a heinous crime. Yes, politicians are supposed to point out the distinctions of their own views, but this election cycle’s debate seems to be the most negative I’ve heard in years.
What do you think? Is the mood in the country particularly black today? Should they turn on more lights at Carlsbad Caverns?