The harbinger of our hateful electorate? Look no further than online comments

By | December 18, 2016

The contentious post-election climate has left many Americans wondering how our democracy became so spiteful. I think it’s time to heap some blame on online comments.

The ability to say offensive things online on a daily basis without consequences has led to new, and more harmful, norms for civic behavior. Toxic fuming online, ad hominem attacks in comment streams, the spread of fake news (a.k.a. lies & propaganda) — none of it is constructive. How is our modern democracy going to solve any problems if our digitally-connected citizenry is unable to use public online forums to talk AND listen AND identify where we may actually agree?

Endless one-column comment streams of reactive bile, hate speech and bot propaganda aren’t helping anyone understand the varied positions on important issues. Incivility in public digital discourse doesn’t move the needle forward. It just shuts the discussion down.

It’s time for us to find a better way.

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