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Think before you post to the Internet

John Speer

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As a columnist, I must be a glutton for punishment; otherwise, I would have learned long ago to stop reading the comments posted online in response to columns. More often than not, these comments are uninformed, asinine and vulgar. I’ve witnessed a parade of the stupid, the racist, the sexist and worst of all-the professional (barely) troll. Yet, none are more odious than “Dropping Facts” and all those who would follow his example.

Unfortunately, I can no longer stand silent as this commenter and others like him hold intelligence hostage and negotiate for the triumph of inanity.

We are unfortunately blessed to live in political era which encourages and nurtures sincere ignorance. Many believe, based on a survey of their own experience, that because their opinions are genuine, their convictions carry the authority of truth.

Moreover, we give leave to every dunce who mistakenly believes he possesses the satiric ability of Stephen Colbert. This is not the case. We are not entitled to our opinions, and trumpeting your certainty in the face of new information and alternate perspectives does not demonstrate strength – just obstinate stupidity. Furthermore, trivializing the importance of issues does not make you clever, only sad.

The Internet has forever altered public discourse. Every individual with a brain of feathers and the heart of lead takes courage to post his views online. Those with regrettable ideas no longer have to put their name or face to public scrutiny when they chose to share their thoughts.

All that is required is a computer, an Internet connection, and a feeble mind. Because ideas can spread with such ease and have the instantaneous power to reach millions in seconds, it is severely incumbent upon us all to use this power responsibly and soberly.

Many of us derive our opinions from our intuitions and feelings, but it is time to place more stock in deliberative judgment. Before you respond to that article or that news report online, remember that much of it is designed to elicit the exact response you provide. Most news reports are salacious and manipulative by intent. The inflammatory makes news and stirs feelings – not the mind.

Consider the media culture in which we exist. When we feed on a steady diet of misinformation from Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow, we risk a dangerous malnutrition of the mind. Thus, I must implore all our commenters not to be in such a rush to compress the most words into the smallest ideas known to man, but instead reflect and consider the possibility that you don’t know what you are talking about. You probably do not have the information to reason accurately, and your own experience does not render you an expert on every situation which happens to catch media attention.

More importantly, consider strongly (before you post) whether or not you want the entire world to know you missed the end of season sale in the cerebral department.

John Speer is a graduate student in secondary education. His column runs weekly.

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Think before you post to the Internet