“Do you know what’s great about the internet? Everybody gets a voice.
Do you know what’s not so great about the internet? Everybody gets a voice.”
This is a short extract taken from Doyin Richards’ story, ‘Critical Thinking vs Social Media’ Is It Possible To Have An Honest And Respectful Debate In The Age Of Social Media?, published in askmen. (http://uk.askmen.com/dating/single_fathers/critical-thinking-in-the-internet-age.html)
Admittedly this source is certainly not the most authoritative and academic but I feel the argument Richards puts forth is very valuable to what I’m looking at and so I have chosen to use this as part of my research. This particular argument does not directly tie in with those that I addressed in the last post, but it is however an aspect that I will be addressing in my essay and so it is of great importance to me.
Richards states that the democratic voices enabled online distract from the real issues at hand; he claims that individuals are verbally attacking ecahother with carefree comments and vulgar insults that offer no thoughtful dialogue. Rather they provide an almost pointless debate of ill-mannered opinion, often which is expressed as fact. Nothing is achieved he claims and the argument moves onto the next object at the forefront of the newsfeed.
Richards makes comparison to conversation he has with his friends regarding matters of current affairs and states that whilst there is heated discussion and disagreement, there is a level of respect and appreciation towards ecahothers opinions.
I decided to have a look at how present Richards’ idea is on YouTube. For anyone that has been on YouTube, and that’s everyone (pretty much), you know the answer. It is present, very present indeed. So I figured I would really try to test stress the idea that YouTube is full of bad and negative comments full of shrill opinion. I figure funny cat videos has to be the way. Content which is innocent, fun and simple, and here it is (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdgt1ZHkvnM) Of course, not far down the comments is there very quickly disagreement, and crude language aimed at another user for merely stating their opinion, and at something very light in tone (see below).
Of course online, there is no element of a relationship with your peers or an identifiable presence and so. Especially with the defense of a screen between them and the next person they are crudely beating down, it is easier for people to lose all sense of respect, appreciation and consideration for anyone’s thought that differs from their own. It is also important to recognise that these individuals are anonymous to ecahother and when you are merely arguing with an avatar, it is easy to pretend to be the all-knowing alpha male.
Figure 1. Image available at: catsbook. (2013) “Epic Funny Cats 20 Minutes”. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdgt1ZHkvnM [Accessed on 06/12/14]
Richards, B. (n.d) Critical Thinking vs Social Media’ Is It Possible To Have An Honest And Respectful Debate In The Age Of Social Media? [online] Available at: http://uk.askmen.com/dating/single_fathers/critical-thinking-in-the-internet-age.html [Accessed on 06/12/2014]