This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Why people make negative comments on the web

If you've spent much time on the web, you've seen a lot of negative comments. They're usually at their most extreme on YouTube, but they're also on blogs, Facebook, you name it. And it really has nothing to do with computers, or anything like that, it's simply human nature.

Now calm down here, I'm not saying that people are all just a bunch of stinkers. But most people won't speak up if everything is fine, and they'll express their opinions if it's not. You can think of it like this: I can't imagine anyone writing to the mayor to say what a good job he or she is doing, but if something needs to be fixed in the city, the letters will pour in! 99% of people may be thinking that the mayor is doing a great job, but if 1% doesn't, then 100% of the letters will be negative. It just makes sense. When was the last time you wrote to your mayor saying what a great job they were doing? If you did, people would wonder why you went to the trouble?

So that's human nature - we speak up when things seem wrong to us, and if everything is OK, we tend to be quiet. Social media has the equivalent of applause, or cheering, or thumbs up, which is just a button. I will often hear YouTubers asking for a thumbs up on their video, which strikes me as strange, as it's kind of like finishing a song and asking for applause.

If you post a picture, for example, of your dog, hundreds of people may see it, and think it's wonderful, but there really isn't a reason for them to make a comment. The people who see something wrong in the photo (whether real or perceived) will comment. And then you may have someone comment back on that negative comment, and before you know it, a "flame war" (argument in the comments) starts. Technically, this is called "engagement" and at least it means that people are visiting, and looking at your stuff. It's annoying, but it's engagement.

Whenever someone finds a typo in one of my blogs, I imediately thank them profusely for reading it. And then I count how many paragraphs in they read, and I'm impressed. No, I don't put in typos intentioinally, except the ones that I'm doing in this paragraph, but often that's the only time I'm even aware that people are visiting my blog, and read it.

As someone who has spoken in front of hostile audiences (I was a teacher), I know that you need feedback to improve. If all you get is cheers, you're gonna think that you're already perfect, and feel no need to improve. On the other hand, constant negative feedback can be discouraging, and it's nice to see the "thumbs up" and the smiling faces.

If you liked this blog post, thank you. If you don't say anything I'll assume you did. If you found the mistakes and feel compelled to comment, that's just normal human nature kickin' in.

Make it a great day!

The robots of Instagram

Instagram is a fun place, but you have to look out for the robots. Actually, the technical term is 'bots, and it's just something that businesses set up to automatically do stuff, like follow you, and sometimes make comments. I gotta admit I find it kinda creepy.

If you're techno-nerdy enough on computers, you know that a macro can be written to "read" certain words. That is, if the word "dachshund" is recognized by a computer macro program, it can go into action. On Instagram, when I tag #dachshund, I know that in addition to real people being able to find pics of my wiener dog, the 'bots see it, too. And the bots automatically start following my page, and will often write "good dog!" in the comments. Mostly I leave them alone, but every once in a while my #Fitness tag attracts people whose definition of fitness is a little bit more, uh, liberal than mine, so I block them. Their 'bots usually write stuff like "Atta boy!" or "Great workout!" And if you tag #sunset, you get the 'bots who say, "Awesome photo!"

I understand why businesses do that, because it's impossible to be everywhere at the same time, and the more places your business is, the better the chances of people seeing it, and buying stuff. I get it. But it's still kinda creepy to see a comment and know that it's a 'bot. To me, it's like being at a party and having a robot walk up to you and start talking in a metallic voice.

This isn't a criticism of Instagram, and it's not bad enough to make me wanna leave there. But it's an important lesson to me. People really don't like "pre-recorded messages" when they'd rather talk to a real person. So I'm a real person on Instagram. If you write a comment that sounds like a real person, I'll respond. If your robots start talking to me, I'll just delete the comment, and block you.