on July 30, 2016 by in Golden News, Comments Off on Spellcheck and facts as prerequisites to hate

Spellcheck and facts as prerequisites to hate

Online comments sections, such as those of The New York Times, have an irresistible pull on me … to read, that is.

I’ve never joined in on an online discussion, although I certainly have very strong opinions about what’s being said. I do come across some thoughtful and well-considered comments, but many – if not most – of these online posts are spiked with hate, arrogance and ignorance, often expressed in bad grammar and poor spelling.

Not that such errors don’t appear in even the articles themselves, of course, as casualties of the instantaneous breaking-story format of internet news. For the online commenters, though, I think some of them are just in a major hurry to launch their points of view into the world of cyberspace. Internet trolls aside (those who post inflammatory statements just to get others riled up), online commenters hurl vehement posts back and forth at each other, often spewing vitriol that is “beyond the pale,” as one person commented in a discussion around a Times article about the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week. He went on to say, “Hate speech need not be true for its consequences to be real.”

That statement struck me. I mentioned that I haven’t jumped into the fray … yet. But when I see blatant falsehoods – whether the author knew they were lies or not – my fingers twitch on the keyboard. To clarify, I’m talking about facts here, not people’s opinions, which clearly we are all entitled to, but the gibberish that these people put forth as truth.

Part of my character – for good or ill – is an overwhelming need for things to be right. Maybe it’s my Libra-driven balanced-scales-of-justice requirement. In any case, I have a barely containable urge to set everyone straight about what they’re saying.

My first thought is: Don’t these people know? Don’t they know that what they are hearing or reading is false? Don’t they know that what they are parroting back is false?

My answer to my own question is simply “maybe not.” Politics are fascinating to me, and, as an admitted information junkie, I’m devouring as much as I can during this election season. So I really don’t (really) expect others to bombard themselves at this level.

And yet, and yet … the comment I referenced earlier – “Hate speech need not be true for its consequences to be real” – made so much sense to me that I’m actually considering wading into the murky waters of internet discussions.

What would I say? Certainly, I would contribute facts, and references for these facts, to the conversation. I have a myriad of these bookmarked on my computer. But I would also say something like, “If you have to hate – and make sure that everyone else knows you hate – then hate something that’s actually real. Not falsehoods created expressly to be shared. Not misleading statements engineered to deceive. And especially not outright lies that could so easily be exposed.

Seek the facts, consider the facts, and, if you must, then hate those facts. Take a stand, sure. Make your voice heard –; without shouting. Share your passionate views with civility.

And please use spellcheck.

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