Imagine a girl is on her Facebook and posts "I totally stubbed my toe on the curb today... ouch!" and then she logs off.
Then next day she checks it and sees that her post got 20 comments. She scrolls to see the latest comment and it says, "Come on! Everyone knows that Robert Pattinson is so not hot!"
Outrageous, right? Well to me, seeing the tangents that Internet posts can go off on is a very outrageous and also a very comedic thing. Once I was online reading comments on a page that was about the idea that pick-up lines are not dead and it turned into this guy being sexist and saying girls are weak.
Now in my experience, most of the places to find the craziest Internet tangents are with controversial or opinionated groups. On a PETA page, for instance, you find them left and right. They have a poster with Steve-O from the TV show "Jackass" campaigning for PETA's "Cut class, not frogs" focus. Half of the comments have to do with people who love Steve-O and the other half is people hating on PETA and Steve-O.
There is a fan page on Facebook called "We Love You Elder Boyd K. Packer." It was created following the controversial talk he gave at the LDS General Conference in October. The page consisted of a lot of people posting supports of Packer and the LDS church. In this one woman's post there were a lot of people supporting what she said and then, all of a sudden, a guy posted something hating their point of view. From that point on, all the posts were a fight between that guy and the supporters.
It seems to me that going off topic usually starts by just one person saying something out of the ordinary or completely against what was posted. Or another way to sidetrack is when people turn to normal conversations. Say a person would post "I'm totally in love with this guy" and it will turn into two people commenting, "Hey! I haven't seen you in forever." "I know! We need to hang out soon!" Or someone may say, "I need your number."
I know that social networking sites like Facebook are meant to put your opinion and thoughts up for the world to see but I believe that everyone should keep private or conversations like these on a more closed communication, like IM, text, e-mail or phone calls.
One thing that I've noticed when I post stuff that can tend to turn into Internet tangents is that it happens whenever I post anything longer than one sentence. People will always only read the first part of my comment and then remark on that, getting upset at me when I feel is not justified because their statement is almost never about what the whole post was about.
For example, I posted my opinions on a friend's status: "Yeah sure. And when the feds shut down testing facilities that PETA uncovers, sure must be a lie. Lemme tell you something, it's not just PETA. It's so many many people who feel the same way. Learn your facts before you target one organization just because society does. Stop being a conformist." And the reply was only about pretty much the first sentence or two of what I said and not anything on the last part.
I think the best way to kill time and to get some kicks is to get onto a page, find something that has a lot of comments, pull up a chair and spend some time reading a story with an unpredictable ending, because more times than not it will end with absolutely nothing to do with the original topic. Reading posts is like a never-ending cliff-hanger with surprising twists and turns. So kill some more time on Facebook laughing at tangents instead of doing homework.
Sara Bowker is a sophomore at Northridge High School. She enjoys dance, theater and stage crew. E-mail her at email@example.com.