View From The Glen

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Attacking With Bitterness

I get my news off the internet. CBC. The Times Online. Other sources I come across. It’s much better for me than a newspaper – which half the time I couldn’t read – and I don’t have TV. I do listen to the radio, but find the sound bites never quite enough.

Although sometimes the quality of the reporting seems lacking – the blame of which lies, I believe, in the nature of the internet where getting news out fast sometimes gets in the way of getting it our accurately - overall, I feel pretty well informed.

The comment sections are something else though. Not just comments about news stories, but comments on various forums that I sometimes view.

Vitriolic. Angry. And often ill-written into the bargain. There is no intelligent exchange of ideas going on; nor is there even a spicy debate. It’s just badmouthing what someone else says and violently spewing your own views as gospel.

Charles Darwin once said (in a letter to J Brodie Innes in 1878) that, “there is no reason why the disciples of either school should attack each other with bitterness.” He was talking about science and religion, but he could as well have meant anything. Climate change versus a natural cycle. Conservatives vs Liberals. Even mundane news items like recommending children under 4 not take certain medication seem to bring out opposed spit & foam parties that hurl verbal abuse at one another with contempt and, yes, with bitterness.

Surely the benefit of a forum like the internet provides is to can learn from each other, hear different opinions and grow our understanding of issues that are important to us. And there are those out there who do just that. Unfortunately the bile and fury of others make reading the comments something I prefer not to do anymore. Which is a shame, as it’s a lost opportunity for all of us.

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