Online comment sections can get so dark that some sites have sworn them off altogether as many readers appear to have decided that life is better without Internet commenters whatsoever. Comedian Michael Kosta is not one of those people. As host of E!’s new show The Comment Section, Kosta will dive deep into comment forums across the Internet in search of all the weirdness and craziness they have to offer.
“In today’s culture, where the phone is in your hand and as soon as you’re pissed off about something you can share it with people, it’s really the perfect time to be exploring this because people do not have a filter,” Kosta tells EW. “There’s no restraint, and it’s just so extreme. In real life people are pretty moderate, they live in the gray area that is life, but in the Internet comment section it’s black or it’s white.”
Finding the most infuriating, inexplicable, and horrifying comments requires research from multiple different sites, Kosta says. “The commenters on Yahoo! are a lot different from the commenters on The Guardian or Uproxx,” he says. “It’s really hilarious to see the difference. Sometimes you’ll be surprised what sneaks in to the BBC comment page. And sometimes it’s amazing how intelligent a comment will be on a website you don’t think intelligent people go.”
After all this research, Kosta and his team have divided internet commenters into different categories. There are the commenters who only share love, and those who only post hate. Then there are what Kosta calls the “NPR tote bag commenters” (super progressive liberals), the “shoehorns” (who use their comment as an excuse to push their political views), and the “infights,” who take threads in a totally different direction – turning a news story about Bill Cosby, for instance, into a debate about the best season of The Cosby Show. Kosta’s favorites, however, are the self-proclaimed experts.
“50 Cent declares bankruptcy, and most commenters are just racist or like, ‘Good for him; I never liked his music,’” Kosta says. “But every once in a while you’ll get someone who’s like, ‘I studied bankruptcy law 22 years ago, and section 9 of the Florida state says …’ I love the experts. There’s just no way to have any clue if this person is legit or not, and guess what? If you’re commenting on the Yahoo! celebrity page, you’re probably not a legit bankruptcy lawyer.”
Reading Internet comments can sometimes be a trip into a black hole of human nastiness. Kosta is well aware of this – there’s an entire section at the bottom of his website called “Social Media Hell,” compiling the meanest things people have said about him online.
“There’s no way to escape the nastiness, and one thing that’s fun about our show is you can’t escape it, so we’re gonna laugh with it,” Kosta says. “We’re not trying to fix the Internet or anything, so I’ll be your tour guide through this terrible place. If I didn’t feel that way, I’d probably commit suicide.”
The Comment Section premieres Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET on E!.