The Civility of Internet Interaction is Waning

The World Wide Web is turning out to be a angry place. The rise of the internet has birthed something inside people. Comment threads on social media highlight the darkest and contentious thoughts that people have.

While in the past, they would just remain thoughts; people seem to be spouting their dislike everywhere. Jobs have been lost and harassment has ensued over things said on social media.

Political, lifestyle and entertainment articles seem to draw the largest, opinionated crowds. Opinions are conveniently negative, even on ‘feel good’ stories. It’s so prevalent, it even has its own term, trolling. So much so that websites have turned off comments completely or heavily moderate them.

The progressive 24 hour news cycle is a possible factor in how individuals relate to the news. When stories were regulated to certain times of day or through specific forms of media, the impact was greater. The limits on media may have protected our empathy.

Whereas now, news stories are recycled through media outlets all day long. Things that would never have been shown on public television 30 years ago, are being replayed over and over. There are also several syndicated news channels that peddle opinion based reports. Implying that the news is targeted can be an overstatement, but different media outlets know their intended audience.

It is almost as if the internet has morphed into a social experiment; slowly desensitizing it’s users. Basic humility is falling by the wayside. The concept of having civil, intelligent and acceptable debates online now is laughable.

The stark change in behavior is alarming as it has fast tracked over the last 15 years. It’s scary to think that this method of interaction might be a mainstay in the culture of the internet.