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Clicking The Hate – What The Internet Has Done To Common Decency [Opinion]

Bruce Mikells
Secret Spy Cam Photo

I am guilty. I have done this. I hope I won’t do it anymore. I just wanted to let you know that. Unfortunately, I bet you have done it too. We’ll both probably do it again with out thinking. What is the “it” I am talking about? It’s not considering the feelings, intentions, or ramifications of a comment made on social media, online, or in an e-mail. The internet has just made it far too easy for all of us to be less than gracious or at least civil to one another.

You see it everyday on Facebook. Someone posts a story, an article, or an opinion and then gets hammered by the comments. Now don’t get me wrong, I support the right to agree, disagree, acknowledge, and refute a position. But what usually happens is in three clicks or less the comments become personal. It goes quite quickly from “I disagree with your opinion” to ” you are a raving madman who should not be allowed to reproduce unless that activity is done alone”.

Once upon a time we talked face to face with each other. We still had many meaningful disagreements, but at least we respected each other. Then came the telephone where we could berate people as an anonymous voice on the other end of the line. Caller ID put an end to that practice. Now we have Facebook and other social media sites. It’s quite humorous to see someone with a verse about kindness in their profile going full blown Acadia Parish on someone over their opinion of a Luke Bryan song.

It’s happens in our business, the radio media business. That reporter from Mississippi forgot that his microphone could be heard in Lafayette. I am sure he thought he was playing to the home crowd, instead he might be out of a gig. We are so connected but not connected personally. Because you can’t see my face or read my body language all you get are my words. Depending upon your personal filters, your mood, and the way you think my words might inspire or they might inflame.

What can we do?

The first thing we can do is remember that on the receiving end of every thing we type, tweet, post, or put into video there is another human being. A human being that deserves respect for at least being human. Second we need to understand that it’s okay to disagree without there being a winner.  Just because I like crunchy and you like smooth should not make us mortal enemies. Instead we should just agree to disagree on some things.

I think the Internet has all made us “have to be right” one hundred percent of the time. We correct spelling, grammar, sources, and even ideas. The shame of it all is that some of the greatest ideas you could ever read get blasted because of a typo or bad subject verb agreement. The Internet has proven that we’re not all gifted writers. It shows everyday that we are not all gifted communicators. It shows every day that bullies aren’t confined to the playground.

While the world of cellphones and computers has certainly brought us closer together at the blink of an eye, it’s also proven that connection is not as personal as we think it is. As we fly by each other on this information superhighway we’re traveling too fast to feel anything but rushed. When we stop feeling and communicating with passion and compassion we all get frustrated. Just like the driver in rush hour traffic that frustration boils over in an instant with the click of a mouse.

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