I first ran across Bleacher Report in February of 2008. At the time, the Patriots had just been stunned by the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. I don't recall how I stumbled onto the site, but I do remember that it was a very different place then.
My best description would have to be that it was a free-for-all where any Tom, Dick, and Mary could post anonymous comments that often included language that was, um, not exactly kosher. Unnamed people, including myself (I'm not going to lie) called each other every name in the book.
And there were no consequences unless somebody felt sufficiently offended to flag a comment, in which case the comment would be deleted.
Nobody had to have an actual account, so there was no concern about getting kicked off the site. And if a foul comment was deleted, it would often reappear the next day.
The other thing I remember from that time was the realization that the New England Patriots were universally despised. Looking back, I have to laugh at my naïveté.
Oh, I knew that other fans didn't like our team, or us, but I never understood the depth of their loathing until then. I had never really thought about it.
It was a pretty awful time for me to have discovered the site, considering the year that the Patriots had experienced. Fredo-Gate, 16-0, the Super Bowl loss; we were ripe for the picking, and it seemed that every unnamed troll in the galaxy was on Bleacher Report, spewing their contempt.
I found it repugnant but compelling—a deadly combination.
It got stupid. If you were around at the time, you know that B/R is a better place for wasting our time now than it was then. Sure, anybody can still dummy up a membership using aliases and alter egos. But if your language becomes offensive, poof! You're gone.
Time and time again, I have seen members disappear, only to resurface a few days later under a different name. You read the articles, you read the comments, you recognize the syntax, you put two and two together, and you know. You just know.
But all things considered, I have to say that the site is more civilized today. At least it is now necessary to establish a membership and give yourself a name, any name.
There is one exception to which I take offense, albeit pointless. That would be the inevitable, inescapable, and really annoying presence of the ignorant Internet bully we know as the troll.
These people have to be a little bit crazy to write the things they write. They hide behind a laptop in order to post nasty remarks about teams and people they hate. Half the time, they don't even know what they are talking about.
The Patriots have been a favorite target. From the day I posted my first anonymous comment, right up to the present, these bullies have come from every kind of absurd perspective to run us down.
Tedious, just tedious. The same crock of bull they have used from the beginning. No imagination at all.
We got last year off for good behavior. Funny how when Tom Brady is not on the active roster, the "ZAQ" become quiet.
But now he is back and putting up better numbers than anyone had expected after all that he has endured. Hatred has ensued.
It was one thing to read these inane comments to the articles on the Patriots page, but now these bullies take it upon themselves to publish articles here.
Sure, we are all entitled to publish on any page we choose. I get that.
But I recently took a look, strictly curious in nature, to see how many Patriots fans were publishing evil articles on other teams' pages.
I came up with nothing. I'm willing to admit that I could have missed one or two. But that would be irrelevant considering the number of people who visit our page in order to stir up trouble.
Why do they do it? Motivated by Brady envy or simply feeling badly about their own crappy teams? Something else?
I don't know, but my point is that we don't do it to them. No, I'm not playing victim here, just pointing out that these very people who accuse us of being classless are, in fact, the ones who have a thing or two to learn about class.
But my real point, Patriot Nation, is that we need to stop commenting on these articles. In fact, we need to stop reading them altogether.
Why pad the read and comment counts of people who hate you without even knowing you? Why argue with them when they are only recounting the same garbage we were reading two years ago?
Why give them the time of day? I know you have better things to do.
Why even acknowledge their existence?
We need to wise up, people, because these trolls are not our friends. Don't click on that headline; don't get into it with these people.
They are trolls, and they only want to mess with our heads.
Don't let them.