For an upcoming class debate, we will be arguing about online comment sections and whether or not they should stick around. I personally think that online comment sections do more harm than good, and if possible, should be removed.
Why do I think this?
1. People are a lot meaner when they’re hidden behind a computer screen
Because online comment sections afford users the opportunity to express their thoughts without having a face-to-face interaction, people feel more inclined to say exactly what’s on their mind, without thinking how the other person may react. Removing this personal level of interaction makes it easier to be harsher to someone, because if you don’t know the person you’re commenting to online, do you really need to be nice? Even if you do, because you are not saying it directly to their face, the ability to be meaner comes easier.
Jay McGraw, author of Life Strategies for Dealing With Bullies, talks about the impact of these harsh comments and other forms of cyberbullying on the Today Show with Matt Lauer.
To go one further, sites that allow anonymity are a breeding ground for hundreds of thousands of problems. As if removing the in-person interaction wasn’t enough, removing one’s name and identity from their online comments allows them really to be as honest or as mean as they would like.
Jeff Goins is an online blogger who has received backlash on his blog; in one of his blogposts he writes about why people can be so mean online and even apologizes that “his own kind” (bloggers) is so disrespectful online.
His biggest argument for the disrespectfulness:
People just want to be right.
Even better is the article Goins wrote for Relevant, “The Rise of Confessional Media”. He points out that a friend of his who works as an Internet Marketing Director hates social media. Why? “It’s narcissistic,” she said. The article doesn’t dwell too much on frivelous online comments and posting, but it brings up a good point that self-constraint is important on social media platforms. Without it, it will just be “a lot of talking heads and rants overcrowding what used to be well-respected news channels.” (Goins)
2. Internet trolls are ruining the point of comment sections
Comment sections are fine when they are filled with responses from people sharing their opinions. Even if these opinions differ, the discussion will grow and people can continue to learn about a subject matter. However, in today’s world there are such a thing as internet trolls — “people who fish for other people’s confidence and, once found, exploit it.” (netlingo.com) Their general nature is extremely frustrating and their goal is to create aggravation rather than intelligent conversation.
CNN actually just reported on the detrimental effects of internet trolling, since an Australian columnist, Clementine Ford, was attacked by online trolls this past week. As a feminist blogger, men took to their computers to attack Ford, some calling her a ‘slut’, others threatening her with rape. An Australian author, Kerri Sackville, saw that Ford was being attacked and created the #EndViolenceAgainstWomen campaign. Using Ford’s story as an example, it is clear that internet trolls are still pervasive online today, giving me all the more reason to want to take down online comment sections.
You can find the full story on Ford and her Online Trolls here.
There are many reasons why online commenting sections are harmful to humans and the world we live in, but online trolls (and their aggressive nature) and the removal of a face-to-face interaction are two of the biggest reasons I am against online comments. I have never left a comment online, but I am active on various social media platforms and am witness to nasty behavior on theses site, which as described above, is a form of bullying: cyberbullying.
Everyone has their haters, but allowing their haters to destroy their opinions online is just not ok.