For whatever reason, the comments sections on Youtube videos seem to be hotbeds of useless anger, outrage and argument. However, that is not always true. I am happy to say that, on an internet frequently drenched in needless negativity and divisiveness, there are actually some uplifting things online — even on Youtube.

Take, for example, a video to Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up.” While there is comment praise for the song, and the music video itself is uplifting (with Peter Gabriel hugging Kate Bush the whole time), I easily noticed how it’s not nearly as bad as many (if not most) Youtube comment sections can be. Scrolling through the comments I found one person asking, “But… did he get a boner? Must’ve done.,” regarding Gabriel’s experience of continually hugging her throughout the video. While it may not be the most socially appropriate question, it is something a person might legitimately be curious about, so it needn’t be regarded as all that offensive.

One comment asks “if you are one of the 854 to date that has disliked this performance please enlighten us as to why?” Aside from the needless question mark (which is a mistake I might occasionally make myself), it functions as a decent post, asked in a calm manner. The response: “Because it’s depressing – A song written by multimillionaires about mass unemployment and a life they’ll never be able to know or connect with. It’s enough to make you sick! I didn’t dislike the song btw.” This could have escalated things further, but everyone else basically just let it slide. As a result, it is almost a standalone comment on how the rich and famous may pretend to stand with “the common man” but will never do enough to bail him out of poverty. The commentator adds: “It’s true! Same with John Lennon’s ‘Working Class hero’. Multimillionaire singers and song writers pontificating, is, I find, highly hypocritical.” There’s truth to the observation, sure, but such is life when one person is successful, yet never so successful that they can change the world entirely by themselves through the power of song (or even by their own wealth and influence).

Anyway, the uplifting stuff happens further down the screen, one person says, “this song gives me real hope that i can recover from my eating disorder feeling scared of eating right now ,it sounds silly to some people but i need hope and strength.” Another person responds: “I was viciously bullied in junior high for being ‘Fat’ (according to the bullies)… they called me names, ridiculed me, threw stuff at me: the sort of thing that just shreds your self esteem and self worth. I ended up feeling like a tortured animal in a cage and I too was scared… I was terrified of being ‘Fat’ which would result in daily torture and so I starved the heck out of myself to get as far away from ‘Fat’ as I could. There was actually a time when I would have preferred to be dead than ‘Fat’ and eating terrified me because every morsel of food, every single calorie, brought me ever so slightly closer to that which I dreaded. Perhaps your situation is different, perhaps your feelings are not the same as mine, but if it helps you at all…

For a long time I felt that I was protecting myself and starvation was just me working hard to look the way I wanted to, but then at some point I realized that I was shaping myself, hurting myself, probably killing myself… to please others. In fact, I was shaping not just my body but my entire life to please those little shitheads who used to torture me… and I realized that they are just that: little shitheads, not the people who should matter to your life. Why reward such horrible people by giving them control of your life. I decided to start living my life to please the people who love me: my family and friends… and also myself – my TRUE self. Not the scared tortured animal that the bullies created. It wasn’t always easy and sometimes it was excruciatingly difficult but it was all worth it. Cliched as it may sound, I found that I had the strength inside me… I believe you have it too. DON’T GIVE UP.”

Incredibly, the conversation continues as being supportive, and even reminded me of the various times — in grade school, high school, and even later in life — where I either dismissed myself or other people as being fat. Because, honestly, something that rarely gets talked about is how overweight people can also criticize other overweight people. I will sometimes tell myself, “I may have a little gut, but at least I’m not as out of shape as that guy.” These Youtube comments truly made me think about all these little issues involving superficiality, and how body image dominates and controls way too much of our thinking and society. Sure, being overweight is an issue, and maybe deserves some attention, but I often think it gets too much attention. I also considered how anyone can be a bully. I have been a bully, and partly because I was bullied a little bit myself. It’s never just that there’s one group of people called “bullies” who do all the bullying every day. No, anyone can do it, and pretty much everyone does. This is why it’s such a pervasive issue, and why the true solution is not just some anti-bullying campaign that oversimplifies the issue and makes us think that the culprit is just a few bad kids on the playground. The real culprit is baisc human stupidity paired with superficiality. It’s about how we do not have an intellectual culture, but instead rely overwhelmingly on a superficial one that divides people based on physical characteristics (some of which people have little to no control over anyway). Until we have more of an intelligent society that respects ideas over appearances, and this is paired with a supportive and reasonable general tone, bullying will be an issue.

Also, this will make fat jokes just seem like fat jokes, and not like attacks. Because I firmly believe that people should still be able to make potentially offensive jokes and observations without being regarded as outright villains. The Youtube comment perhaps doesn’t take this into account as it seems to dismiss anyone who tells such jokes as “bullies” and “shitheads,” when they themselves should perhaps not be so thoroughly dismissed.

But, yes, thoughts like these emerged in my brain thanks to some comments on a Peter Gabriel video on Youtube. So, in my opinion, this experience was actually somewhat useful.

(Coincidentally, if you want to help me sell out by blogging for cash, you can buy Peter Gabriel’s album here and I’ll supposedly get a portion of the proceeds.)