Friday, May 8, 2009

No Civility on the Internet News

In the old days, I might read an article in the Clarion Ledger, and I might make an ugly comment about whoever they were writing about, or my friends might, but we never dreamed of letting anybody else know what we were saying. We'd even shut up when the waitress came to our table so even she couldn't hear our gossip or gripes.

We all do it. We have opinions about the people in the news , and we might want to say something unpleasant, but it's never intended for public consumption. It's just us blowing off steam to people we know. If people we don't know hear words like that coming out our mouths, it's actually quite embarrassing, or it should be.

At least it used to be that way before the news was on the web, and every story had a segment at the bottom where just about anybody could throw in their two cents no matter how vicious or vile.

I like reading the news on the web. It's more convenient for me and I don't have to muck around with a physical paper, but it shocks me when I read an article on the Clarion Ledger website and get to the end and see what people are willing to post in the comments section.

I know people always thought like that, but it was a very different deal ten years ago when they'd have to be satisfied with venting their bile at home rather than laying it out for the world to see. I wonder how many of these people would be willing to type these posts if their real name were attached to it rather than an internet pseudonym.

I think they forget that Jackson's still a fairly small community, and the people they spew such vitriol toward on those message boards have friends and family who read those posts.

It's actually pretty cool that regular people can now add whatever comments they want to a news story, but have a little class about it will ya? And for heaven's sake, don't attack another poster for their comment while you're making yours. The whole point of the thing is to let people say what they want to say, not start a riot.

Some people say the C/L should moderate the comments more carefully, but that's no good either because then somebody has to go in and decide which comments to leave and which to cut and there's no way to do that without giving preference for people speaking from your own bias.

The answer is for people to remember that the internet acts and feels like any other avenue of social discourse and act like it. Ask yourself how different your comments might be if your real name were attached to it.

4 comments:

Mommy Cracked said...

I guess I need to check out the CL online. I'm still one of those that prefers to have a paper in my hands to read.

Sandi said...

It's generally the same posters over and over. Which makes me wonder if these people have jobs.

A. Boyd C. said...

Yeah I noticed that. My heart kind of goes out to them. Just sitting at home with all that rage boiling up inside them. It can't be a very pleasant life.

Nicole Bradshaw said...

I think it's cowardly. If you're going to rail on someone, at least have the courage to do it out in the sunshine. Don't hide behind Web anonymity. Pitiful.