Comments, Trolls, Civility and Middle-ground

I was reading comments sections on the internet…again…ugh…*deep breath*…

The internet is great. It can allow us to find information about any topic we might ever possibly dream up. We can even invent new things to become dreams. It is a tool that lets us form friendships that last for years and bonds with people we may never see face to face. Because of the internet I met the Lady that became my wife. It is a way for people to have a voice. To share views and ideas. To be able to stand up for people and concepts.

The internet is also one of the ugliest things that has ever been invented. Like I said at the top, I was reading “comments”. I should have been not surprised. I’m drawn to them like a moth to a flame. I know I’m gonna get stressed and burned yet, I still go back…

*sigh*

Civility seems to be optional. People that would never walk up to a stranger and say “f**k you, you deserve to die because you think that” have no problem doing it on the net. We don’t even think twice about it. We just type away and hit “enter” as if we are just talking to ourselves. We have decided that what we have to say really doesn’t hurt someone “out there” and even if it did, we’ll never see them so it’s ok. Normally calm and polite folk say things that they would NEVER say face to face. We castigate, condemn, and berate without a moment’s hesitation. We accuse those that disagree with us of lacking intelligence, humanity, and morality. We make assumptions about strangers and project them not knowing any more about that person than the handful of words we are responding to…and we do it without a second thought. Just hit “enter” and you’ve struck a blow for whatever cause you think you might have.

In some ways, as much as it pains me to say this, I’d rather see commentators be like the Westboro Baptist loonies. At least, they are willing to put their physical selves on the line. They are willing to take their views out with their real faces and be berated in return. They don’t hide behind a false profile and a user name. I entirely disagree with their views and the places they protest but, respect their willingness to not hide. Does that make sense?

I’ve never attempted to hide my bias. I write for and about a friend named Z. It is always personal when I write these. She is always close to the surface of my thoughts even when I’m not writing because I’m either thinking about what comes next or something triggers a thought. I’ve become more educated because I write, meaning I read both pro and anti LBGT sites. I read both the far left and far right political views. Ugh…

Again, my bias shows, I am pro-Z. In this context, that means pro-LBGT. In a greater context, it means that I want the best for her life in every possible way. I want her to be free from insult for her political views. I want her faith to be treated with dignity. I want her seen as the complete human she is and not just one aspect of that. I’ve used this space and her to try to make that point. She allows and encourages me to do that.

So, why does that last bit fit? Because we forget. We think that we have some right to be rude and uncaring. I have to hit backspace so often I think I might break the key. I read comments and it seems that people go looking for reasons to be a troll or, just as bad, on a site that supports their view, to vilify and demonize the other side. When we say “all (fill in the blank) are (insult here)” we are guilty of what we protest. Yeah, I’m guilty of that, too. It’s why I try to say “I” or “we”.

How do we fix the problem? We try to be civil. We try to understand that lives are more than a sound bite. That thoughts…even fearful and repugnant thoughts have some reason behind them. We try reasoning with people and not shouting or insulting them. We ask questions with a mind to gain insight and understanding. We don’t personalize insults or assume they’re directed at us. We presume ignorance, not stupidity, so we might educate and explain our own views. We realize that, if we can change and evolve our thoughts, given a chance, others can, too.

It is my weakness. I am guilty of what I’m talking about. Not the attacks or being a troll, on screen, as much as taking insults to the LBGT community to  be directed specifically at Z. I take comments that say “ALL Christians” to be directed at me. *sigh* Even when I realize the commenter has no clue I exist. I become defensive and stressed over the words of strangers. My keyboard takes a beating and then deletes the post I’m about to make…

Please don’t take this post to mean that I’m saying all of any group is either good or bad. There are some pure souls in any group…except for “hate groups”. There are some truly rotten people in every group, too. Mostly, though, groups are made of imperfect humans that have an inkling of a thought and it seems to fit their view. Sometimes that inkling is more well found. Sometimes it’s just what they want to believe. The pure souls don’t need to be changed. The rotten can not. The ones in the middle are the ones to teach. We, the middle people, the ones trying to muddle through and live in peace can be educated…if we are not alienated by the people that want to change our views.

I hope this made sense. I wish reason would break out. It’d be nice to be able to not be so defensive. I’d love it if I could get past the point where I take every comment that is “anti-(insert friend or cherished belief)” quite so personally. Maybe my answer is to just not read comments and insulate myself…nah…I will keep reading comments and maybe try to take my own advice. Besides, blocking, banning, hiding, and removing give such a sense of power. *grins*

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7 comments

  1. When I write these it is with the complicity of Z. She rarely suggests changes and NEVER edits but, is always at the top of my mind. We, she and I, use her as a tool to help bring a face to the reality of the fact that the LBGT Community is made of humans. I HATE to do what I just said “use her as a tool”. The words “use” and “tool” imply that she is an object to be used. That is so far from how I think of the Lady that it stresses me to even write that. The “anti’s” dehumanize and demonize enough. *sigh* I wish there was a different way for us to achieve our goal. I wish, sometimes that she weren’t real so she could be “used as a tool”. *sigh again* I am grateful to her for being brave and willing to be “used”. I am more grateful to her for allowing me to have her trust and her mine. In our partnership, to me, she is the one that is important. She’s the one that without her this would not exist…

  2. Amazingly, some people actually do say these things in real life. I was a victim of it. In my formative years I was spit at, told nobody likes me, and told on many accounts that I should just go kill myself.
    As much as I wish I could think of the mean comments objectively and laugh and pity the person behind the screen, sometimes the comments are what keeps you up at night thinking, “am I really that stupid?” “Does everyone think that?” It breeds subtle insecurity.
    I’m sure I’ve done it, but I hope never to that extent. Why do we feed off of hatred as we do?

    Well said. You gained a follower.

    1. Thanks. *sigh* I know they do. I still am amazed at what people will say. *sigh again* As for the follow, thank you. My goal is simple, Z is almost as dear to me as my wife. If my words can make the world a kinder and safer place for her than I’ve done what I set out to do. Simple goal, problem is that the world is full of humans and we are anything but simple.

  3. Anonymity is the real villain on the internet. As you said, in their real life most people would never dream of saying those sorts of things. I hate conflict, so I do try not to read the comments, but sometimes it is like the last cookie in the package and you are going on a diet the next day. You just can’t help yourself. It agitates me so much that my heart begins to pound. I have to stop then. It is a sad thing that respectful discourse has died and there wasn’t even a funeral notice.

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