Here we go peeps, welcome to my first blog entry! I am going to try to post something at least once or twice a month.
I have been trying hard recently to find ways to deal with all of the hateful comments and name calling out there on the Internet. I like to read online articles, but whenever I scroll down to the comments section to read the posts, I often find comments written by people that have lost all semblance of decorum. I must admit I have participated in heated Internet debates in the past, however; as a rule I usually try to limit my posts to occasions when I think that the author has gotten the situation all wrong, or when I feel someone is saying something beyond unacceptable. When I do decide to comment, I try to be respectful of the other person’s opinion. I attempt to erase emotion from my arguments (it can be hard), and I work to support my points with facts, not just my opinion. Lately though I have refrained from responding to posts altogether because I wonder if it’s worth the headache. Also, I have realized that probably what I have to say is ultimately going to fall on deaf ears.
The inability of people to show a base level of human respect towards others saddens me. I am not sure what is worse, the racist, the sexist, or the homophobic comments that I read. What happened to the art of debate? I can’t figure out which came first, the chicken, or the egg. In “olden times (as my kids like to say)” were people as rude to one another as they are now, or did the Internet just create a haven for cowards who want to spew ugly?
My husband always tells me to ignore the comments and not to let them bother me. He believes that the majority of the negative or racist type remarks are from trolls (people on the Internet trying to start shit), but I wonder if that is entirely true. I agree with him that there are a lot of people out there that only enjoy playing devil’s advocate. They drop their hate into the caldron, turn up the heat, and then wait to see if the mixture explodes. I can’t help but believe that some of these people are not trolls but instead individuals intent on using the Internet as a hate forum, a platform to voice their disgusting and vile thoughts. This scares me on a deep level.
So why read the comments? Well, I guess I am naïve in thinking that some people might say something worth hearing. I don’t only want to hear ideas that mirror mine. I make and effort to view things in a balanced way by examining both sides of an argument, then generating my own thoughts and opinions on the subject. Even when I disagree with someone, if their point is cogent and not venom filled, I am inclined to listen, take it all in, and consider what they are saying. I do have a problem though when a person decides to discount my truth based on the premise that they never experienced it so it “couldn’t possibly be true.” When that occurs I have a hard time being open to what they have to say. I find that this type of dismissive behavior is pervasive on the Internet. People seem to lack the basic understanding that it is possible to disagree with someone yet still be respectful of their life experience. Just because something never happened to you, doesn’t make it less true. Hell, you don’t have to get hit by a car going 40 miles and hour to know that it probably hurts.
Having said all of this I guess I see the Internet as just not meeting its potential. I think it could be a great place for people to connect and work to promote greater social and cultural understanding, but instead that doesn’t seem to be happening. So I have decided to take the situation into my own hands by creating an environment where people can speak their truth without fear of others downplaying their experiences but I can’t do it alone, I need your help. I invite you all to join me in this experiment.
Here is my pledge:
With your help, I pledge to create an environment free of hate speech (that means we will police one another and when things get heated we will bring things to a simmer). I will make an effort to listen to what others have to say and I will comment in a respectful manner. I might not always agree with you, and I will make my opinions known, but I will not discount your experiment and in turn I ask that you do not discount mine.
Will you take the pledge? Respond in the comments section with a simple, “yes.” Together hopefully we can begin to change the way people participate onlineJ
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