Hats off to you, smally52297. Because four months ago, when the presidency was still a bit too slippery to pin down, you got it right: “obama prob gona win ow after his speach” [sic]. Your forum of choice? A comment on a YouTube video. Which video? Why, the mind-boggling video of white guy Mitt Romney uttering: “Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?” under his breath while posing with a group of black supporters for a photo on the campaign trail in Jacksonville, Fla.

And same to you, stickyrice209. For, in the CSPAN-posted video of the entire first presidential debate this past September, you noted, “jim lerher is cool and so is pbs yay for weed” [sic]. And how could I forget you, yoyokng1sucks. Responding to Typhlosion169’s pointed comment that President Bush deserved that shoe being thrown at him in the video depicting said act at an Iraqi press conference, you quite daringly and provocatively responded “dude stfu, america is pussy, they bring jets, tanks, machine guns, rifles, to fight a poor county like iraq, that got pistols n shyt, they shud be ashamed, and sdfu, tht guy had alot fo guts to do tht, not like u little white pussies, cant do shit, dude and even then iraq is woopin american, so sdfu, and get some info before u decide to post sumting again, u stupid red neck taxas bitch” [sic, for the love of God, sic]. Dicey conclusion, but well argued, yoyokng1sucks. Kudos.

Sure, YouTube receives bajillions of new comments every day. And sure, the vast majority of them sink away into obscurity. But they are not invisible. At the Golden Globes last week, Tina Fey used her acceptance speech to tell DianeFan, Cougar-Letter and BabsonLacrosse to “suck it.” These three troublemakers were nothing more than anonymous geeks posting away on the online discussion forum for TheEnvelope.com, an awards season shoot-off of The LA Times. While saying that Fey was “simply like the pimple on my face — just there” may have been nothing more than a click of a mouse to DianeFan, comments like this have the potential, albeit very small, to take on greater meaning, or to enter a larger arena. Like the Golden Globes.

Author George Saunders speaks of what he calls “the Braindead Megaphone” in his essay of the same name: the concept that the constant, often lazy and shoddily thought-out drone of cable news, the blogosphere, and the ever-present media slowly corrupts everyone, regardless of intelligence or resistance. In the midst of the cacophony, the Internet is the greatest perpetrator of all, and YouTube, its rambunctious 4-year-old. Whether we like it or not, this stuff affects us. And often in ways we don’t expect.

Almost every video on YouTube manages to muster up some form of debate, almost always irrelevant to the video’s subject matter. mattbootry seemed to enjoy an ad for Cadbury’s chocolate featuring a gorilla playing the drums, commenting, “you could sell oil to the arabs with an ad like that,” to which frilloz4 responded, “the arabs are the ones with the oil stupid” [sic]. Again, an ad for chocolate.

These debates often devolve into race wars, with some dumbass ostensibly shouting “WHITE POWER!” through his keyboard on the likes of Miley Cyrus’ new music video, typically inciting equally offensive responses. Take the playful romp of a video, “Monkey mess with tiger” [sic]. Here, a gibbon delightfully taps some sleeping tigers on the head, and hilarity ensues. Smith35KC, only five days ago, chimed in among the chorus of “LOL” and “awesome” with: “This is why black people good at basketball” […sic]. I mean, hey, I’m all for free speech, but sometimes I wish these people would just stfu.