Digital tolerance

Oh, internet. The bastion of great thoughts and petty skirmishes. An open forum of unique ideas and rehashed biases.

How we interact with each other online, if only viewed through that lens, would indicate we aren’t a very hospitable race. Twitter, Facebook, and even the ‘gram can sometimes reveal the vilest and despicable thoughts that we, the engaged, can express.

People say, or type, things online that they would never say in person. Others express opinions that they may have shared with like-minded individuals, maybe two or three in their community, but now they enjoy a world-spanning platform. The like-minded respond to their opinions, reinforcing behavior that, again, would not be socially acceptable in person.

At the same time, we actively engage in digital fisticuffs, trying our best to pivot and outmaneuver our networked opponents. Because they have become our opponents. No opinion but ours is valid online, and we defend our little nook with extreme prejudice, with failure never an option.

And thus we devolve into warlike attitudes with those who would otherwise be someone we could actually connect with.

The internet was, and remains, a great idea. It is its execution that has been stymied somewhat by us, the users.

Trying to remain tolerant of others with different opinions is usually a difficult task. At the best of times, it makes us somewhat uncomfortable to have our opinions challenged. At the worst… Well, wars have been fought for less.

Remember that behind each screen is a living person, little different from you or me. Attacking with verbal violence and vitriol shouldn’t be your go-to response. And rather than a preemptive trolling, why not engage in preemptive understanding?

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