Newsweek had a great post on their website here about different items the internet has ‘killed’. in addition to the usual suspects from a list like this, one really caught my attention – that being civility. there are some good rants out there about the dangers of a comment box; why does every entity feel the need to let everyone sound off on every single topic? is it really necessary to get reader feedback on a house fire article? will there really be addition relevant information provided by the reader that the journalist didn’t gather? the comment box seems to have provided a forum for this type of uncivil discourse. the newsweek article goes on to talk about the lost art of respectful disagreement. perhaps the anonymity that commenting provides makes some people feel untethered to the civility that they were generally taught growing up. i wonder how many of the people who post acerbic and disrespectful comments would have said the same thing to someone’s face? would they have said it if their parents were standing next to them? while i’m not saddened at some of the pedestrian casualties in this article (dvd rental, yellow pages, etc.) the loss of civility is one that makes me take pause. perhaps what bothers me more is that school districts seem to think that blocking sites that allow for discourse and social commentary is the solution. nothing could be more backwards. we need to allow students opportunities, safe opportunities, to interact so that they can develop in to good digital citizens. if we continue to make it taboo and stick our heads in the grounds when it comes to social interaction on the internet we will be inadvertently contributing to the loss of civility that we are seeing.
what the internet killed