I have my opinion. You have yours. In most cases this works, except in bars near closing time or with my ex-wife because we both know whose opinion really counted (one hint, it wasn’t mine). It especially works on the internet. Free expression. Where else can you find it if not there and maybe also dog groomers? (Think about it)
However, along with free expression come the jerks. It’s like those holiday parades where after the marching bands and the floats go by, you get those guys in the funny hats driving the tiny cars. In the case of the internet, we find them in the comments section. The dirty, underbelly of the web. This is where the trolls live.
I recently read an article about the most hated companies in the U.S. I then scrolled down and read the comments section which included zingers like:
1) I hate our progressive Government…Our Military hating Government….Our give away entitlement Government….our idiots that we have in office…..our spineless congress…I hate Obamacare…..I hate anything that is against free-enterprise… I hate unions ( I can think for myself..) I hate… (he kept hating for about hundred more words – it got much worse)
2) I hate Harvey Weinstein and the Hollywood Kike Mafia
The first commenter, okay, maybe he’s just venting; his moniker is ScrewYou44. I can imagine hours of fantastic cocktail party conversation with him revolving around the pros and cons of government overreach.
The second commenter calls himself HPDrifter and displays a picture of Clint Eastwood from that movie (maybe he’s a fan). With this guy, who really knows what shaped his mind, but I certainly wouldn’t involve Clint in the discussion.
What’s similar between the two is they are both in hiding. Sure, it’s easy to climb to the top of the figurative mountain and shout out what you think, but these guys are safe knowing no one’s going to figuratively follow them up there to see who’s yelling.
You know what I say? Force them to spew their venom with a little less anonymity. Force them to stand up and declare themselves to their friends and family when they make a comment.
I am [insert name here]. I am a Registered Republican (with anger issues) and I’m not going to take it anymore.
– or –
I am [insert name here]. I am an Unrepentant Racist (and most likely unsuccessful screenwriter). See what wrath I have wrote ! (Remember, he’s not successful)
The internet provides people like this an opportunity – the equivalent of talking behind someone’s back. They might phrase things differently if asked their opinion face to face in reasonable company; although, sure, it might be a stretch our contestants would ever be in that kind of company, but, for the sake of argument, let’s say they could be.
My point is forcing some kind of exposure might reintroduce civility into a conversation that for many has really gotten out of hand. Some would call this censorship. In my book, it’s more self-censorship, something people who troll the internet need a little more of.
Until Next Week – Don’t Look Down
by W. Darrah Whitaker