The Internet and the Death of Common Civility

One of the things that I have loved about abandoning social media years ago, and starting this small enclave for movie lovers is that everyone (on the whole) has been so decidedly civil. Generally speaking, if you flip over to my post on The Prestige, and read the comments from beginning to end (minus the fact that will take you two days to read all 445 comments) you will be blown away at the civility of the conversation despite the fact that people are hold very strongly held beliefs. I mean, look at this most recent comment on this Prestige Post pointing out the amazingness of the ideas and interactions – Shan is making my point for me here:

Hello @Tylor, hope you are doing well
(Note: English isn’t my 1st language, nor even the 2nd, so ignore the grammar)

I’m just here to tell you that I’ve literally read EVERY comment of this thred (400+ ig). Took a whole day and night to read this section. And I must admit that I luved your theory. I can accept every theory other than the ‘machine working’ one. Am here to appreciate your true dedication and intelligence as a cenephile cuz I luv those moviegoers who think outside the box and come up with alternate theories.

If the ‘tesla machine working’ thery happens to be true, I must admit that the prestige is a great “thriller” movie but a bad “sci fi” movie.

Anyways Just want to know that you are doing well cuz apparently its been more a than a decade since you’ve started this thread. May u be blessed for keeping up with all the commentators for so so many years. Would love see your views on more movies<3

It took Shan an entire “day and night” to read them all! hahah. So great. I also love this comment because he agrees with me that the machine did not in fact work – but that is a comment and discussion for the Prestige thread, NOT this new post. And that is what I love about this little site. People posit ideas based on evidence, facts, and new groundbreaking ideas to try and understand/explain complicated movies. Sure, it’s not curing cancer. Yes, we are not endeavoring to send people to Mars. But even with people that disagree with the majority opinion, they do not start tossing hand grenades and make ad hominem attacks the normal state of the union. Sure, occasionally they will happen. But, generally, here on THiNC. we have been really blessed to have generally a cordial interaction. Heck, if anyone is to be blamed for being too hardcore about an idea? That would be me! hahaha.

But I got this comment on a post the other day that really caused me to pause for a moment. The commenter went out of their way to obscure their identity… but they come from somewhere in the Spokane, Redmond area of Washington. And Washington, for those of you in other parts of the country, or who have never visited, is really really polarized. The whole north east is crazy polarized. In the cities you see extraordinarily liberal ideals being espoused, and 15 minutes out of the city? The opposite end of the spectrum. So, who knows where this person is coming from – it might not even be politically motivated. Actually, reading it again, I’m sure it’s not. It’s just hateful.

“Taylor Holmes, if that’s even your real name, I absolutely despise you.”

Hahaha! Okay, let’s all just look at this site. It’s a movie site. A little, itty-bitty website that I run to bring people together that like movies. It’s an elevated hobby site. I’ve learned that internationally, (and even domestically) some people just want to know what a movie was about… like at the surface. What happened, and why did that weird thing happen. End of story. So, some just like the basic explainer and that is enough for them.

Now, one thing you need to know, is that this comment was on my post for Rosaline. I didn’t rate it – IE score it out of 5 stars. I didn’t recommend it per se. I basically used it as a redirect to my own personal favorite Shakespeare film, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. Hey… if you liked Rosaline, you’d really like this film sort of a thing. But let’s just say I rated Rosaline at a 5/5. Let’s just assume that I THOUGHT IT WAS THE BEST MOVIE EVER! Which, I didn’t. Really? Is it worth despising someone over? To despise someone is to – “feel contempt or a deep repugnance for.” Over a movie? And, by the way, as a side note, “Taylor Holmes” is my real name……. sort of. hahaha. Let’s away to their next objection, and this gives us a bit more to go on:

“I have not forgotten your abysmal review of the movie Parallel, and this review is nothing short of pure retardedness.”

So, the offending started with the movie Parallel… which, honestly, I don’t even remember. Looking it up now. What? I gave that movie all kinds of love! What is happening here? Here’s a quote from the film:

“First, I have to say that this movie… it sort of feels like it was tossed out on the curb. And dang… and also the hate this movie is garnering from Tomatoes, to Twitter, to Facebook is just unbelievable. Did they make the movie, and then couldn’t find a distributor (Covid and all that?) or just couldn’t find a buyer? The guy that directed is pretty well known in this community because he wrote and directed El Incidente, as well The Similars (which you guys have asked me to write up no less than 200 times, if not more.) The film was sold to Vertical, and they then pushed it out to digital distribution, and it released December 11th. I guess there is nothing weird about that. And yet, it feels sort of like a cast off. But hopefully we can get it the recognition that it deserves. I don’t know, maybe we are ahead of the curve. Who knows. Let’s get to it – I’ll walk through the film, explaining it as we go – and then at the end we’ll discuss it… fair enough?”

“But hopefully we can get it the the recognition it deserves.” ?? Oh, but maybe I’m reading this guy wrong here. Maybe he hated Parallel? Is that what he’s saying here? I didn’t give it a high rating if that’s the case. 3.3/5 so I wasn’t ebullient about it or anything. Never mind his horribly insensitive use of the word retard. I mean, personally I don’t mind, because some of the greatest people I’ve ever met are impaired mentally. But it breaks my heart for lots and lots of other reasons.

“How dare you call yourself a critic with your nonsensical explanations of movies.”

I literally don’t call myself a critic. I work hard not to bring movies to this site that I am critical of. I try to find movies that we can unpack, explain, or try and understand from different lights or perspectives. The only reason I “rate” movies is to give my readers a feeling for where they are on a THiNC. scale. And I literally don’t care one iota how Ebert, or Rotten, or others would rate the movies we are talking about. Again, and let me say this clearly, I’m not a critic. I try to help people find movies that might make them think… I think on my email newsletter I describe myself as a bespoke movie list cultivator… or something like that.

“It truly shows how incapable you are at picking up on the nuances of films and your inability to understand motifs and themes.”

Oooh. I know what a leitmotif is! I graduated high school! I remember my first year of college using the term leitmotif and having the professor throwing it back in my face. Hahahah. I was what? 18? hahaha. Congratulations on your vocab here sir. Unbelievable.

“I am giving you 24 hours to take down this gay site or else I will call the authorities.

“Taylor Holmes, you sir, are a faggot.”

I mean, this is just laughable. Turn off my site because some neanderthal thinks I should? Hahaha. Okay. You talked me into it. Where did I put that off switch? Anyone seen it lately? I’ll definitely do that right after I find it again. But again, your usage of extraordinarily hateful language is appalling… I’m not offended being called a faggot… I mean, unless you mean the British, sticks of wood? hahaha. Regardless, not offended… it speaks more about you than it does me.

But let’s step back for a second.

I really don’t care about this one encounter with this Spokane lunatic. But I find it more interesting to think that this internet rando would take this much time out of their life to send such vitriol across the internet. And for what? My normal routine when this sort of thing comes through? Delete. Move on. But I think there is something else going on here. A dissociative sort of disconnect similar to the hate the people throw at mascots… or people concealed in costumes. They can’t be real, so punching a person in a dog costume can’t actually have real impact or meaning. Why?

This is also similar to the hate we echo through the facebook and instagram chambers. We assume that we need to put everything on blast in order to be heard. Or, trolling is the way to get responses we crave or need… or that the feedback loops developed by an online culture is so desperate for that dopamine hit from a response, that it doesn’t matter whether it is a positive, or negative, feedback loop. And I struggled with posting his email to me… but ultimately I’m assuming that this person will not see this post. I would actually love to have that dialog – to talk this through. So I pissed you off with two posts. Got it, how’s the rest of your life going sir? First, and I mean this seriously, and unironically… I am sorry. Because these two posts absolutely do not matter. Not only not in the big scheme of things… but really at all. Not even in the small scheme of things. They just don’t matter. Parallel has gotten what… 40k views in the past month? OK, whatever. It just doesn’t matter.

But I’m guessing something else is off the rail for this particular person. And that matters. Maybe it’s not a divorce – or something tragic. Maybe it’s just a low burn ennui that is tearing this person apart at a real slow and unrelenting persistent pace. So much so that they flip people off for not going through a yellow light. Or they stop and tell “Taylor Holmes” to sod off because of their random promotion of a stupid rom-com movie.

So, let’s stop talking about this person… and start talking about you. This random internet reader that doesn’t know Taylor Holmes, or this random guy that hates his rom-com. You were just randomly reading, and you came across this intriguing tale about JUST ONE MORE TALE of internet hostility. But now I’m going to flip the script. And I want to say that people matter. Just because we are abstracted by a trillion ones and zeroes, and separated by routers, cables, and server farms. All people matter. This person matters. Regardless of their feeling about me particularly. You matter. And you should treat everyone you come across – whether online, or in a mascot outfit – you should treat them with the inherent respect that they deserve. I’m not hurt by this person’s email… but I think it’s a good reminder to me that everyone matters. The person that made your subway sandwich matters… tip them. The polemicist in that “vaunted” newspaper that espouses ideas you hate… they matter. The guy that cut you off in traffic… they matter (this one is pointed at me.) We all deserve to be treated with inherent love and respect. Life is so very very tenuously short. And to wield hate like this is just so horribly damaging. Not to others… to yourself. If you feel yourself heading this direction… please find help. Want someone to talk to? My email address is taylor at taylor holmes dot com. I’m here to talk. Heck, join us on the discord server… there are a pile of people over there ready and willing to talk it through with you around the clock. (There are people from all around the globe over there.) But please know, you matter. Your heart matters. Your soul matters. To treat yourself like this guy is treating himself is just not okay… you deserve better than this.

Me? I’m fine. I’ve been getting yelled at for my “insipid” reviews for a decade or two. This one person isn’t going to break me. But I’m more worried about this person than I am for my own safety or harm. Please find a way to get help.

Edited by: CY