Before the anonymity of the internet, if a person had a view and wanted it expressed, they had to write to a newspaper, call into a radio station or stand on a soap box. But these were limited options because of the need for space or time. Only a few got through to express their views.
Opinions were shared with friends and debated with those of opposing views.
In politics football and religion, tempers flared, insults flew and issues debated. Rarely, though were people irreparably injured.
Enter the internet and the landscape changed.
Now, of course, all of the above applies. But there is an insidious side to the net. Views are expressed with a violence and malevolence unheard of in the face to face interactions of the past.
People were much more mindful of the hurt imparted by a defaming comment, a vicious insult.
Now, though, through the artificial prism of the internet, people feel free, even empowered by their anonymity, to rip into others, to hurl insults and viciousness at people they have never met, and who they probably won’t ever meet.
These same people become judge, jury and executioner over the opinions of others, often belittling a view because it does not accord with theirs, because the view is not substantiated by recognised facts and “the literature”.
People judge others more unkindly because of their political preference, religious preference, and sexual preference. We have laws governing behaviour in these spheres but they don’t stop some from going to the line. They don’t stop people from being inherently nasty and bigoted.
One should be able to put a view without having to be aggressive, without having to be defensive, without fear of being belittled or defamed.
My recent experiences in the game of opinion trading, is that there are some very considered writers out there who engage with courtesy. And there are some whose access to this medium ought to be suspended.
Before entering politics I was as sensitive to criticism as the next person. Whilst there I learnt how to deal within myself with those intellectually deprived character assassins and now that I am out, I still apply those same lessons. The shame is that I have to.
I feel for those who disengage because of the louts who aggressively bully others for some sort of gratification, only they know about. Perhaps it is relevance deprivation.
In any case, I don’t care if people feel they need to belt me, because whilst they are doing it to me perhaps they are leaving others alone.
So I say to the bullies, come on! give it your best shot! If this article doesn’t apply to you, great. If it does, shame!