Hate speech. We see these words flash by in news headlines a lot these days. Far from the maddening crowds chanting these words as a form of protest or as reactionary behavior, we see hateful words play out as status updates and comments to news articles on social media. What happened to civilized discourse? When did we as an American people decide that it is more important to sway someone to our way of thinking vs. being champions for freedom of thought? What happened to respectfully disagreeing with someone vs. bullying them to a digital pulp?
Many commentators portray themselves in a negative light with their biting words and adversely affect public opinion of their personal brand. Either they are incredibly naïve with regard to how social media works or they simply don’t care. I suppose that some would suggest a third option: that they are just plain stupid.
I really can’t imagine that in-person social discourse would lead to the hate speech and bullying comments that I see posted online. A screen gives people the power to say things that they normally wouldn’t say in public: a type of virtual courage. These statements are attached to identifiable data: a name, a face, a location, and any other public information that is shared on individual profiles and gives the reader the ability to find out more about this vocal commentator.
We hear you.
We see you.
We know who you are.
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could leave the vitriol behind, stop trying to convert everyone to our way of thinking, and follow the simple golden rule of treating others the way we would want to be treated?
What do you think? I really want to know.