Social media and the internet have given people the platform to say whatever they want.
Or so it seems.
I also see social media muzzling people and preventing dialogue and debate, the people on social media being so toxic and hateful that no one wants to share their contrary opinions.
We see it time and time again on social media. Several people will comment angrily about an issue and one person will chime in voicing an opposing view, and they will subsequently get bullied and harassed.
People have said to me, in person, they want to engage but are scared they will get “trolled.”
I have a friend who shared an article, on her personal Facebook page, about the possible toxicity of feminine hygiene products.
She said something like “this is alarming and I am going to do more research.”
She ended up removing the post from her page because she was getting so many upsetting comments.
Our social media policy at the Revelstoke Review requires that we moderate comments on our social media platforms.
We remove swearing and hateful language as well as people who are clearly not using their real identities, although that can sometimes be difficult to judge.
However, we can’t stop people from saying what they want to say. And we have no control over what they say about our stories when they are shared in other places.
I have seen some scary examples of what appears to be mob mentality, where everyone is upset and they seem to fuel each other to a point where they are planning physical violence against someone.
If anyone disagrees with them, they jump on that person.
It is unfortunate. The more divisive a story, the more one-sided the comments are.
What does that say about our community to people looking in?
Where is the space for constructive conversations? Where is the space for respectful debate?
Several of my columnists have said they avoid writing exactly what they want because they don’t want the community to respond in a hateful way.
What conversations and views are we missing because of threats and anger?
Passion is a good thing, but everyone is allowed their opinions and shouldn’t be shamed for them (unless of course they are presented as opinions but aren’t, but that is a whole different discussion, but even then we shouldn’t be hateful).
Have you ever with held an opinion because you were worried about mean responses?