Thursday, January 13, 2011

Civility for Thirty Minutes, Unless You're Online

President Obama's speech in Tuscon yesterday implored us to be more civil to each other. Civility as an ideal, but in reality, remembered for a moment before everyone moves on with their normal affairs. Be nice for the next 30 minutes or so, then forget it.

As for online civility? Are you kidding? The anonymity of Web 'discourse' pretty much invites people to be rude since they don't have to face their audience or even hear them. Palin's ridiculous video yesterday, via Web broadcast, almost doesn't count --she broadcasts out of a studio in her house which prevents any dialogue (just the way she likes it),but she is far from anonymous. She'd probably pull her hair bump out if her name weren't plastered all over the place. No, I'm talking about people with Internet 'handles' - fake names - and people who may use their real names but know they'll never have to be responsible to anyone for what they post online.

For those people, the rest of us have a choice as simple as the old-fashioned notion of changing the channel when we don't like a TV show. If you don't want to log off, or leave the site, hit the delete button if the obnoxious post is your in box, on your Facebook wall, on your IM or blog. Skip past it if it's on a site you're reading, or if most posts on the site are obnoxious, don't go there again (I generally avoid Above The Law now for this reason). But for the sake of your own sanity, don't take an obnoxious Web post on. You won't change anyone's mind. You'll just buy aggravation, an unwelcome flurry of nasty and pointless exchanges, and perhaps a creepy invasion of your privacy.

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