I remember a time when only grown-ups and people with jobs were allowed on the internet.
This was, admittedly, back in the day when most accessed the net through their work network, so it's hardly as if you needed an exam to get online.
Now, thanks to dirt cheap broadband, which, I gather is even being given away free to the kind of person who has a certificate that lets them sit at home and watch re-runs of Jeremy Kyle on ITV2, everybody and their dog's on the internet.
And frankly, to employ an overused phrase: There goes the neighbourhood.
Tragically, they're everywhere now. There was probably a time (the morning of its launch, I should imagine) that the BBC Have Your Say forum was a bastion of informed debate and opinion forming. These days, even the Guardian's comment sections are full of belming Nazis with little or not personal skills.
So, how – as a fellow internet snob – does one identify and avoid these people? Here are a few pointers:
- ALL CAPS AND NO PUNCTUATION EXCEPT FOR MULTIPLE COMMAS AS AN INDICATION THAT THEY ARE DRAWING BREATH,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,The only solution, of course, is to kidnap Tim Berners-Lee and shine a light into his face until he invents a new internet for clever people*. His fault.
- The words "Gordon Clown's ZaNu LieBore" used at the drop of a hat
- "The BNP are a legitimate political party"
- "CUT OFF PEADOS HANDS,,,,,," but "SAY NO TO MUSLUM SHARIAH LAW,,,,,,"
- The inability to read a news item without commenting. Even if the comment is "WHO CARES,,,,"
- The inability to read a news item without passing damning judgement on the participants. Especially if they are a woman, a civil servant or council officer, the victim of crime or of a different ethnic group. Perm any two from the above and they actually spuff on the keyboard
* Or, write a smug blog post about it. Either way's a big WIN