Continued Internet Responding
What’s the sitch with responding to someone else’s comments about controversial internet content?
I’ll start by saying, in writing this sitch, I am admitting to being one of these clueless responders. But, with that simple admission, I have plucked myself from the swirling cesspool of binary arguments that all too often fill our social media news feeds with drivel, sucking time and positivity from our already short lives. I’m responding to ALL these blinded responders, in one giant swathe, regardless of which mantle they chose to take up.
Perhaps an example would help guide readers to the actual responder-level I’m interested in with this sitch. An initial article, about, say, how we need to vaccinate our children for myriad reasons, though likely not coming from a thought-leader in the field, is not an issue. This I have no problem with. Peeps need to say what they feel. And then, the anti-vaxer response to the first article, citing silly pseudo-science, and parents rights, etc… again, no real problem there. Peeps need to defend their views, no matter how dimwitted/misinformed/dangerous to our communities.
My problem is with the subsequent responses to that defense. Both sides have been spoken for. No one is going to change their deeply held views on a controversial issue because you ‘disprove’ a few points they made in some blog post. If you feel the original pro-vaccine article didn’t do a good enough job explaining the key points, and you feel you are coming from a place of expertise (or just feel self-important enough to expound on your views publicly) by all means, write another article, with a slightly different take. But don’t respond to the opposing post that was itself responding to someone sharing your own viewpoint.
The trajectory of public internet comments should end with the initial content, rather than continue on an endless series of expandable replies. Very quickly down this road, no one knows who is arguing for what anymore, and there can frequently be friendly fire, where folks who ostensibly agree on the initial contention are now slanging hate-fueled mud at each other’s internet avatars.
Why do I care about setting limits on these remote, insignificant text battles? Because I just can’t resist observing a silly internet feud, even if I know I shouldn’t and always feel much worse afterwards. I suspect many of you have found yourselves drawn down a deep internet hole, following a thread of interest hoping for some climactic conclusion only to have it endabruptly with no payoff, after which you realize it all took place six years ago, and you can no longer shower before dinner because you’ve run out of spare time. Or at least, you can probably empathize with some aspects of that scenario.
I don’t want the government intruding on my personal freedoms anymore than the next red-blooded capitalist. But certain regulation should be applied when public health is in danger (see: mandatory reporting of certain infectious diseases by physicians, making Four Loko illegal, etc). And I know the fat-cats up top love to promote any intervention (or lack there of) that will boost worker productivity (see: legal caffeine and nicotine with scheduled work-breaks for maintaining adequate serum levels, government-subsidized alarm clocks [you haven’t heard of these?], etc).
So I propose the United Nations (this is an international problem) reach an agreement where all replies to previous comments are outlawed. All websites will be forced to discontinue facilitation of any such activities. And users found replying directly to other comments (rather than on the initial content) will promptly have their internet service discontinued. The length of punishment can be discussed once the proposal reaches the final stages of approval, but I suggest one month for a first offense, six months for a second, two years for a third, and a lifetime internet ban for a fourth.
Cleaning up the internet will not be accomplished overnight. But beginning to take meaningful steps toward a less cluttered, more congenial information platform is imperative. If we don’t do anything now to control the ballooning pile of drivel, who knows what the landscape will be like for our children. Our children’s children.
Again, as importantly as any child, are my own issues. Once I stumble upon one, I can’t help but track a message board dispute to its unsatisfying conclusion, which leaves me feeling emotionally drained and behind on my work.
Please write to your U.N. representative today! For the children.