- Just curious, was it any different for other theatre companies? I mean, how many of those were "purged"?
- Sounds like a rhetorical question. Stalin, as one of history’s greatest sociopaths, targeted all aspects of society. However this article is about one particular theatre company and the author has a right to focus on that one alone.... Or are you trying to get to some other answer? Are you concerned about the use of the word "purged"?
- It isn't. I know huge part of the intelligentsia were killed or sent to the camps, but I was wondering if this particular theatre was targeted more than the rest? I feel you are looking for something offensive in my question, I wonder why?
So, did it take place on the Tube, do you think? Or maybe I overheard it at one of the many currently sun-bathed, al fresco cafes in summery London? Or, even better, what if I might have chanced upon these two people talking to each other as they exited a theatre? After all, they are discussing this art form.
I’ll spare you the torture of guessing. The above exchange took place online, in the comments section, in a respectable, liberal, left-leaning newspaper. The article was about a Jewish theatre company that thrived during Stalin’s reign of terror but later fell into disgrace. This kind of feedback was left “below the line”.
“Below the line” is a different world. It is an internet-based world with its own rules (non-existing, unless enforced by moderators, also known as “mods”), its own population and its own philosophy. I also belong to this “below the line” world. I have also, I must add, been at the receiving end of impolite comments like the one above on the occasions when I have written for national newspapers or magazines.
|The nastiest species of the"below the line" world
In real life I doubt these two would talk to each other in this manner, especially if they have just met. It is true that there are aggressive people around who attack you verbally a couple of minutes after you have been introduced to one another. But that is not the norm. Then, why is it different online? There is a blog I visit regularly and which is written by a Spanish woman on which she posts photos of her travels. Once a man – and this time I know the poster was a man – left a comment making suggestions as to how many photos to upload and how. Although his comment was addressed at the blog owner and was on the surface good-intentioned, I felt quite cross. It was the language he used that made me so upset. He was so patronising and insulting. I could have done what the first person above did but I chose not to.
The “below the line” world, as I explained before, is not always the sort of misogynistic environment that shuts down debate. Bickering is more common in this world than rape threats. The irony is that we spend an awful long time in our lives telling children, including ours, not to bicker, to avoid unnecessary conflict, and there we are, asking someone if they are “concerned” about a particular issue without any evidence to back up our question.
The internet has brought so many benefits with it. It has also, unwittingly, given a platform to a nameless, anonymous and hard-to-identify community that feeds off this uncalled-for need for confrontation. Rather than being the insult-hurling troll or the misanthropic loser, this is the inhabitant of the “below the line” world; a sophisticated individual whose putdowns are not less dangerous and whose poisonous comments make sometimes the whole online writing experience a very unpleasant one. In the same way we ought to ignore the troll and not to feed it, let’s do the same with this other species. Brush them off.
Next Post: “Pieces of Me, Pieces of Havana”, to be published on Wednesday 18th June at 11:59pm (GMT)