Theatre Lover's Journal for July 1999

Internet Nastiness

Commentary by John Kenrick

It is amazing how the impersonal distance of Internet communication allows some people to be far nastier than they would normally be in person. Strangers feel totally comfortable writing in with vicious messages – its one of the drawbacks of cyber life.

Mind you, most of the hundreds of e-mails this site receives are either questions, constructive suggestions, reassuring compliments, or a combination of the three. It is very gratifying, and my thanks to all those who have taken the time to send in so much positive energy. Our audience it literally worldwide, and it is mind-blowing to correspond get mail from literally every continent on the planet. It takes a few hours a week to reply, but I try to get back to everyone – especially those seeking information. Musicals are happening everywhere, and that is a fantastic thing!

However, every few weeks someone sends in a pointlessly rude attack, usually because they disagree with one of's reviews. I also believe that some folks having a lousy day think it helps to sling cruelty at others – especially anonymous cruelty that they think will never come back to haunt them. They should watch out, because karma can be astounding!

I don't mind disagreement – in fact, as friends will tell you, I love a good debate, especially where musicals are concerned. Sadly, too many people think that disagreeing with someone means stooping to personal attacks. They have been watching too much Jerry Springer!

Just because you disagree with someone does not mean they are wrong, stupid, or lower on the evolutionary scale than you – it merely means they have a different opinion. To disagree does not mean to attack – unless you are so insecure in your own opinions that you cannot bear anyone thinking differently than you do.

I've had messages loaded with obscenities from people who disagreed with a CD review – how silly! One recent message tore me to filth over The Civil War (like I was the only one who disliked it?), eventually saying that people like me are killing the theatre, scaring people away from Broadway! Good grief! The only thing that scares people away from Broadway is bad theatre – like The Civil War.

This is one website with one opinion. If I think a show is lousy, I have every right to share that opinion on this site, and you gentle reader may take it or leave it as you see fit. I was also accused of hating new musicals. Well, this site's acclaim for Falsettoes, Secret Garden, Floyd Collins and many other 1990's musicals proves otherwise. You disagree with one of my positions? Be my guest! Just don't break out the knives over it. Is it any wonder that common courtesy is considered an endangered species? What do such people do when they argue over important life issues?

We are each entitled to our point of view. Views that disagree with yours are not wrong – they are just different. Let's hope more web users start to handle disagreement as a call to thought, not an excuse to resort to personal attacks.

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