Internet Mania is Tragically an Epidemic

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (July 17) – Do I think the Leafs should trade Dion Phaneuf? At some point, absolutely. Not because the team’s most recent collapse was his fault alone but rather because the other two elements of a failed nucleus – Randy Carlyle and Phil Kessel – appear to be going nowhere. Ultimately, the Leafs have to change and signing Peter Holland isn’t going to do it.

Am I in agreement with the remarkable amount of abuse Dion Phaneuf endures from fans of the Maple Leafs? Absolutely not. Though Phaneuf played poorly down the stretch last season, he had loads of company and as I’ve written on numerous occasions, he thoroughly embraced the captain’s role that was blindly thrust upon him by Brian Burke. He’s been a terrific ambassador for the hockey club away from the rink – devoting countless hours to charitable endeavor and visiting children in hospital. For that, Dion has never been accorded nearly-appropriate credit.

Once in awhile, for perverse entertainment, I will look at the idiotic ramblings posted by anonymous figures on the Internet – an epidemic that blatantly cheapens the journalism offered by credible websites. One such entity is the Toronto Sun, which provides, on a daily basis, arguably the best newspaper sports section in all of North America.

As with any so-called chat forum, it is replete with unintelligible commentary among social misfits that derive company from one another as well as cowardly, delinquent pleasure from castigating such public figures as Phaneuf. We don’t know who these ubiquitous individuals are and neither should we care to know.

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A factor that plays into this lunacy is the generally poor moderating of websites. Any aspect of social commentary that is un-policed – in other words all social commentary on Twitter, Facebook and chat forums – must be carefully monitored by reputable, news-gathering bodies to intercept profanity and denigration that would otherwise not be permissible. Though rules of so-called etiquette are posted on virtually all legitimate websites, they are rarely, if ever, adhered to. Chat-rooms exist solely for the purpose of generating audience and cannot be uniformly neglected. Sadly, most are.

If they were appropriately monitored, observation such as that directed at Phaneuf would be replaced by a hint of intelligence and, therefore, constructive commentary. Instead, we are treated to this sort of drivel (grammar, spelling and punctuation errors included), generated by an innocuous Toronto Sun story about the Leafs captain joining Instagram:

? There is no way that any defenceman even Franson could be worse than the princess that lump of human waste is a disgrace to the Leafs and Leafs managment should be ashamed to keep him as the captain let alone a member of the team.

? He should be posting his pictures on Gotnojam the the new social media site for pylons and pussies.

? Diane Phanegg….when they gave him the C…he looked at it and said ” C…is for cookie!!!”…….indeed it is…..now go chase the puck diane

? Please ship this clown to the circus where he belongs … useless Pylon

? He looks like Frankenstein his neck bolt is getting loose. What a pile of waste makes me change the channel when he’s on the ice

? I didn’t know he could write. I think Dions lips are moving. Is this guy Retarded? I can’t stand the thought of watching this lumbering Oaf for another season

This type of slanderous garbage adds nothing to a legitimate website. There is no gratification in posting the above remarks; in fact, it’s shameful of me to promulgate such nonsense and I apologize to Phaneuf for doing so. Nor is it my intention to single out the Toronto Sun. These are mere examples of the contemptible behavior in virtually all chat forums – the overwhelming majority of which lack even a shred of merit and are meticulously ignored by the fools that create them.

My point is that the epidemic is avoidable on websites that do have merit. It requires greater resolve and scrutiny; perhaps a budget to employ full-time moderators that can eliminate such blather before it appears on-line and demeans an otherwise-valid product.

Why not begin the effort today?

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