I don’t usually delve into political topics on the internet, and this is because of the Comments sections everywhere. I recently watched Ellen’s interview of President Obama, and the comments quickly turned into the following conversation:
BLAH BLAH BLAH ANGRY THINGS ABOUT HEALTHCARE
DAMN SOCIALIST AMERICANS ARE GOING TO KILL THE COUNTRY
SYRIA WHAT ABOUT SYRIA
THEY’RE TAKING OUR GUNSSSZZZZZZ
YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING
YOUR MOTHER IS FAT
NO U R
In an effort to have a comment on there about something other than who was responsible for the destruction of this country and how awful Obama was and why Americans are stupid (or why the Swiss are idiots), I stupidly commented on the fact that OBAMA WAS ON ELLEN, and how awesome the interview in the first place, and I commented on this because the novelty of it amused me. This is a world where the US President appears on a talk show . . . there are so many different things at play here that are phenomenal. We’re in an age where someone can record, digitally, in color, a conversation with one of America’s most popular television hosts and one of America’s most-hated/most-loved leaders, and where people can have a discussion about it.
And of course, someone posted in response, “wow . . . brainwashed morons are always like this.”
So as a brainwashed moron, I sat there in disbelief for a few moments. And instantly, I began to regret my decision for commenting on anything in the first place. I started scolding myself–“welp, you really should’ve seen that coming”–and then realized:
I actually did see that coming. And I posted anyway.
So maybe as a brainwashed moron I posted an opinion, and that opinion was either not expressed well enough or ill-received. As a brainwashed moron, I didn’t really wonder why I usually avoid the comments sections on the internet, because the polarization in the comments is generally ridiculous. But I did wonder: is this huge polarization in political opinions drowning out those who are more moderately-minded? Is the large influx of loud, “my-way-or-the-highway” opinions actually preventing us as a country from achieving something that can satisfy both of the mainstream political parties?
The internet is a place of collaboration. With the internet, we connected and collectively signed a huge petition to prevent a horrifying anti-net neutrality bill in 2011. But ultimately, sponsored adverts or no, people are individuals, and have individual opinions. The world is run by individuals. And individuals have conversations. Conversations with each other, which can turn each other’s opinions. Two friends having a glass of wine on a Friday night could have a conversation that revolutionizes how they perceive the world, that could change educational systems, reduce crime, etc, if the ideas are implemented effectively.
So the comments section of the internet could be this place. It could have the power to reach across oceans and cultures to come to some sort of peaceful middle ground.
But comments sections aren’t exactly inviting places where the more middle-ground folks are likely to feel welcome to share their thoughts.
It’s awesome that we can have conversations, in this increasingly digital age, but the question still lingers: will we ever reach a point where we can come together to have a conversation without blanket statements, a conversation that is actually collaborative, on the internet or otherwise? And if so, what might the solution be?
Or, on the flip side: is it actually beneficial to us as a country, in kinship, to be able to feel enraged, together, in this mass of complaints and frustrations?