For those of you who live in the Bay Area, you are likely aware of the Chronicle's online site (SFGate.com) and how its comment fields have become ground zero for public displays of opinion. At the end of every article the readers have a chance to leave a few sentences expressing their opinion on the matter. Sometimes they can be thought-provoking and insightful. Sometimes they can be very clever and very funny. Most of the time, however, they are vulgar, annoying, stupid, or just plain mean. As a long time reader of the Chronicle, I have come to lose faith in the basic kindness of humanity by perusing these comments over the years. If there's an article about democratic politicians, the right wingers come out in spades with vitrolic rantings about how the Bay Area is full of dumb liberals and how Obama is a foreign-born, socialist puppet, etc. An editorial by openly gay Mark Morford can usually bring forth vomitous hatespeech by those who believe homosexuality is a sin. I even remember, during the Giants' playoff run, a Philly fan commenting that he hoped the players would go out and have sex in our "AIDS-infested city" and contract HIV and die. Crazy, right? If you go to the New York Times online site, you'll usually find carefully thoughtout, interesting, and helpful responses from readership, mostly because the NY Times usually filters them. At SFGate however the comments are live instantly and it seems that most commentors are posting just for the sake of being an asshole.
No articles make this phenomenon more apparent than the ones about wine or cocktails. I find that whenever Gary Reagan or Camper English write about new drinks around the town, the response is always a defensive backlash by someone who doesn't know anything about booze and is self-conscious about that fact, hence the need to post their "real" expert opinion. It's usually anger about the vast selection of booze available and annoyance that someone is actually trying to navigate it and enjoy it. "Why should I try all these prissy $10 mixologist cocktails when I can make myself a stiff vodka martini at home?" It's like growing up in a small town and wanting to move to the big city, but then hearing nothing but negativity from your friends or family who in reality are either jealous or too scared to do it themselves.
I woke up early this morning as usual, so I hit SFGate in bed on my laptop and read Jon Bonné's well-written article about Thanksgiving Day wine pairing. As someone who spent the last few days helping customers pair their Thanksgiving meal, I always like to see what other professionals recommend and Jon is normally spot on with his choices. Basically, Jon clarifies and explains the basic fundamentals of how bubbles, pinot noir, gamay, and chardonnay, when made in a certain style, can be outstanding holiday pairings. Easy to understand, well thought out, and most of all helpful. Bravo. What did he get for his trouble? 17 comments (so far) from people who either posted what they would be drinking instead of his selections (as if to show him that they don't care about his advice) or flatout disregard for his advice in general. My favorite being,