I try and keep up with the news as best as I can: politics, business, sports, pop culture…you name it. One of the first things I do in the morning (after checking social media, of course) is to read the headlines on my favorite news sites, skim through a few articles, and then go about my morning getting ready for work. The one site that I don’t check is my absolutely guilty pleasure that I save for when I have more time to spare: Yahoo News.
I love reading Yahoo News not necessarily for the informational aspect of it, it’s certainly not the name that comes to mind when you think of hard hitting journalism. I can’t stand their click bait headlines and terrible interface. Nonetheless, I am a regular reader because I absolutely love, and I mean, LOVE, reading the comments section at the end of every article I click on. I know that most news sites now have a comments section: NY Times has them on most articles, the Wall Street Journal has a confusing interface on their website. But the Yahoo Comments section is like the main dish of a seven course dinner at a 5-star restaurant: it is just so fascinating to me that I just can’t look away.
I’ve tried removing Yahoo! from my homepage, replacing it with a more mainstream news website. I’ve tried reminding myself that Yahoo is an organization struggling to remain relevant in 2017. Even the obnoxious new full screen ads that are 1999 internet pop-up esque that were recently added to their mobile site won’t deter me from waiting through the 30 second ad to get me to my news fix.
Another additional new complication when I’m traversing Yahoo on my phone is that the mobile news site now prompts me to download the Yahoo App when I click on the comments tab. I have to literally click “View Page in Desktop Mode” in Google Chrome, wait 10 seconds for the pull page to load, and then scroll down to the bottom again to read the comments.
This is a big deal because I’m not a patient person when it comes to reading internet articles. If I’m reading an article on a non Yahoo site that’s semi interesting and I reach the bottom and notice that I’m on page 1 of 4 because they needlessly split up the article into 4 tiny pages in order for me to keep clicking, you better believe I’m taking my business elsewhere and just closing the article. But for my Yahoo Comments, I will click, wait through a 30 second ad, and “Request Desktop Mode” my way through whatever is necessary to get me my fix.
And here’s why I do it.
The comments section is the most unfiltered (apart from a basic language restriction) and unrestricted conveyor of society’s innermost thoughts that I’ve ever seen. I’m sure there’s similar stuff out there on other websites, but for me it’s the most mainstream and the most accessible. The interesting part for me is that I completely disagree with the comments section 99% of the time, at times I even get worked up when some of the stuff that I’m reading turns way too hateful. But like I said before, I just can’t look away. To me I see it as a change of pace from my personally tailored Facebook newsfeed that usually doesn’t offend me. Facebook shows me what my 829 Facebook Friends think. Yahoo shows me what the millions of regular readers think and that’s very important.
I spent a considerable amount of time finding a “tame” comments section to post a screenshot of as an example. I certainly couldn’t post a political one as the comments are simply unfit to share, but literally the tamest section I could find was the comment section on the recent lunar eclipse, and even still you see some of the hate:
This notion of skipping for the comments is evident in other forms as well. When news organizations post articles on Facebook, Facebook users can post comments on the articles and oftentimes those comments are more numerous than the comments section built into the article itself. The Onion, the famous satirical news website, for example, doesn’t have a comments section on its website, so the Facebook Comments on articles that The Onion posts on its page serve as the next best thing. I often prefer reading Onion articles from Facebook simply because I can read the article, usually a satirical take on something political, and then jump back to the comments to see what other people have written, which more often than not is just additional satirical material.
Lastly, I will note that I don’t comment on anything in the comments section, no matter the temptation. I don’t like putting my thoughts out on a public forum, especially on something as vitriolic as a Yahoo comments section. But I don’t think I’ll be giving up my past time of curling up with a bucket of popcorn and clicking through the unfiltered thoughts of anonymous internet users anytime soon.