I like to keep up to date with what people are saying on the Web. I admit that this is not really possible with so many people contributing to such a vast network.
When it was in its early days there was a perhaps nieve approach which encouraged people who did not normally have a voice to say what was on their minds. Like minded people found connections and there was great benefit to those connected. At least where those connections were innocent enough – it didn’t take long for the dark web to emerge (that place where bad/evil connections are made). Anyway, I’m getting off the point.
More recently I have noticed an intolerance and ignorance growing. We once hoped that people could have sensible discussions about issues and examine the arguments and take some time to listen to those who thought differently in the hopes we might become better educated about things ourselves and maybe even learn something that might change our mind about something.
Now it seems it is all about who shouts the loudest.
The connections to like minded people now enables us to shout down those with a different point of view. Instead of discussion and examination of differing points of view we use our like minded friends to generate noise to stop someone else from speaking. This is often done by playing on assumptions about people and what they believe and exploiting popular beliefs or modern bogeymen to drown out what the opposition says.
I’ve seen the BBC descend into a one tracked noise enhancing machine in more recent years, where they only put the noise makers into their programs. The Web itself is now dominated by noise makers (the polite term for them are Influencers – a term you will hear on the BBC regularly).
Of course, if we are not careful we start to collude in this because it can be very entertaining to watch (as long as we are not on the receiving end). People would much rather laugh at a Politician being thrown out of a pub than listen to what they have to say – for instance.
When Parliament was first televised it was a shock to many to see them behaving so much like school children – trying to silence the person speaking with jeers and noise. We thought it a terrible thing and yet now it has become the only part that people want to see. We love the bit when the Politicians call each other names and try to ridicule the other – or at least most of us seem to do so.
I want a world where the problems can be discussed and where everyone gets their say. Where you don’t have to feel ashamed for thinking something but instead can share that thought so that it can be examined – even when that thought is offensive to someone else. The only way to get people to think differently is to educate them, you don’t do it by shouting them down and ridiculing them. If you do that they simply find someone else who thinks as they do (pretty easy thing to do on the Web) and start making noise back.
As we descend into mob rule I pray that maybe we might find a way to listen rather than shout.