When it comes to internet hissy fits, you don’t have to go much further back in time than Batman v Superman to find one of the biggest ones. Undoubtedly pretty much everyone has at least heard of the movie, thanks to the huge controversy. This is not because of some almost taboo topic in our society today, or any other reason people decided to cry about, but instead because of the fundamentalist thinking of the internet. Like the movie or not, it parted viewers like Moses parted the waves.
In the case of Batman v Superman, it was hard to miss people arguing about how the movie was, each calling out the other as being “an idiot” or “someone who doesn’t read comics”. It’s amazing how strongly some people react to the latter. Like their pride and dignity has been stripped from them. And let’s face it: If reading comics is your pride and dignity, that’s pretty damn sad. Then again, so is it to be paid to write bad articles about things we didn’t like and, praise the ones we did.
Take a look into the seemingly eternal console wars, and you’ll see the exact same kind of argument about who’s right in a topic that is based on opinion. Taking the most recent installation of the console war saga, fans of Microsoft’s Xbox One were put down by fans of Sony’s Playstation 4, who outnumbered them greatly. With claims of having a superior console being thrown around from both sides, even Sony jumped in on the action and made fun of Microsoft’s forced DRM. Insults were thrown around, purely due to the fact that someone was wrong for preferring the other console. Dishonor on them! Dishonor on their family! Dishonor on their cow!
Another good example is the pineapple on pizza debate. The debate has already gone so far, that people have asked leaders of countries to answer their preferences. The prime minister of Iceland said that he hates pineapple on pizza, and would possibly ban it, given the opportunity. He has since backed down on his opinion, saying he was joking, and wouldn’t want to ban it, due to the whirlwind this created on the internet, where people are defending their opinion on the pizza topping more aggressively than they even defend their political opinion.
Amidst all the ugly fighting on the internet, you’re bound to ask the question: “So who’s actually right?” The answer to that question is no one. There are two main reasons why no one is right.
First is the obvious, “everyone has their own opinion”. The second, however, is that the longer the fight goes on, the longer it is after people have seen the movie. Their memories start playing tricks, and the people who praised it remember it as better than they originally thought it was, and the people who were bored remember it as even worse than they found it originally. So the longer this catfight goes on, the more polarizing it is. The few people who are not on either side, for example those who said “It was good, but nothing special”, are slowly but surely disappearing.
How do these arguments even start? It’s very likely that in brand loyalty is a main factor, but also a little something called the internet, thanks to online disinhibition. Now, before I start throwing big words around to prove that I’m right, here’s a description of “online disinhibition”, according to John Suler who decided to write a paper on it. He says that there are six main factors that cause it. They are based on the facts that when you’re online, the people you’re arguing with don’t know you, can’t see you, often aren’t having the argument in the same moment that you are, are subconsciously given voices and likened to yourself, making you feel freer in the way you criticize them. It’s also based on the feeling of escapism given by the internet, making people feel like they’re someone else on the internet, and by the lack of authoritative cues on the internet, giving the feeling of an even playing ground where everyone is equal, and everyone and their mother is fair game.
All over the internet, in these arguments that one can not even call discussions anymore, people are standing their ground. However, instead of proving the other person wrong, they choose to simply insult the person with downgrading comments wrapped in layers of pathetically failed rhetoric.
It is important that neither fans nor critics are blindly believed, especially when it comes to such polarizing discussions. I, for example, quite liked Batman v Superman, but I definitely have to admit that the movie has a lot of flaws. In fact, this whole fiasco teaches us an important lesson about the internet in general, and is a rude wake up call to many. The fundamentality of the World Wide Web is a vile, vile thing, and if you think otherwise, you’re a stupid little asshole.
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