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This is the End of Civil Discussion

This is the End of Civil Discussion

I'm no John Ivison, Christie Blatchford, Chantal Hebert, Ezra Levant, Christopher Hume, Andrew Coyne or Margaret Wente. Heck, you could find bloggers on this site who routinely write superior than me on their worst days.

I'm too often at the mercy of spell-check, have more than varying positions on anything from politics to pop culture, and although I've written in the past for this very website, have atrocious self-editing skills. I tend to sway towards the comment sections more than anything else, but like I've drawn away from freelancing, I'm beginning to find that they are becoming toxic, an obsession and, frankly, a waste of time.

Don't get me wrong, I love reading what others have to say on specific issues, the subjects of the day, to get a wide-ranging understanding of what my neighbour next door or a few provinces over is thinking without truly speaking to them. Remarking allows the every-person, a guy like me or a man or woman such as you to have a take on an assortment of topics, across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and newspaper and media sites. From pronouncing your everlasting loyalty to your favourite sports team or band to viewpoints on the new IPad or Miley Cyrus, it is as convenient as and easier than ever to share your beliefs with the world. Yet I'm noticing more and more myself, even a contributor in over the years, that there's an absence of respect happening, and what is happening, I'm seeing, is not necessarily autonomous thought, rather the nurturing of a mob mentality.

There is no better place for this to be seen in action than politics forums and discussions. With so many media outlets out there now, whether it be a blog leaning one way or a new conglomerate leaning the other, when a story breaks in the political world, you are likely to find a variation of it on dozens and dozens of websites.

Whether it's an Associated Press article, a beat reporter, a hastily written summary of the news or a link to a site's coverage, you can pretty much find whichever take on something you want. We all know the CBC/MSNBC is the home of the left-wing commenters, Sun Media/Fox skewering to the right-wing crowd and others leaning one way or the other. So when we seek out articles or coverage of events, we know what we're getting. Not automatically in all cases in the content provided by the sites or companies, rather the commenters. There's a sense of community among commenters, a safety bubble if you will, where you can feel free to sound off on whomever or whatever and more likely than not, get praised instead of blasted.

The problem I see is when that bubble is exploded, when there's dissimilarity in opinion, and the dialogues quickly turn into what amounts to bullying. As I stated, I'm not denying to have never done so myself, and can think of innumerable pieces on the Lakers or NDP that I've come back swinging and swung myself at people named "GoGoGadget" or "BernieInSask." What goes from a little blurb about how you feel about say, Stephen Harper, if not parroted and echoed, turns into getting trashed for being a Birkenstock-pothead within a few posts.

Equally, if you attack, say, a Justin Trudeau for being a pretty-boy know-nothing, you can anticipate either a continued line of attacks or being called a hillbilly traditionalist. It goes both ways, and once your bubble of no longer getting "Likes" or "Upvotes" initiates, you find yourself drunk on defending not only your comment but throwing back the same mud that was slung at you. And then you, we, us, are not actually any better than the original poster attacking us but we're just caught up in an never-ending cyber-battle of wits, again, with people with handles like "Moonwalker" and "Fred84." And I know, it's tiring, and pointless.

I'm not writing this to say we stop commenting, or that others halt pointing out a discrepancy they may have with your statements, but reason that we try and be a bit more civil in how we treat one another. It's hypocritical of us to stand up and beat the drum of ending bullying of and by our kids, isn't it, if we're just logging in after supper to do fundamentally the same thing?

And we shouldn't take the up-voting/down-voting of our peers so earnestly; it shouldn't make one iota of a difference to be validated by a cluster of strangers whether or not our take on something jives with them. It's your belief, so embrace it! Don't be petrified to make mention that you didn't like Beyoncé's new song on her fan page just because you're afraid to be critiqued! If you didn't like it, then that's your opinion, and you own that.

On the flip side, if you are reading someone's post talking about how they feel about something and don't agree, don't online-murder them because you do. It's a vast world, we all see it differently, we all process things in our own way. You can surely add to the conversation, but don't put them on suicide-watch to get your opposing view across. Don't call them a troll or claim they were paid to make post, even though Perception Management is real. Who cares, don't let it get you so fired up!

Of course, we could not comment on anything at all, not take the red meat thrown at us we're bound to jump on like wild dogs. But we comment because we all have something to say, to share, and if we can learn to not take it so seriously, and be a little nicer, perhaps we can expand our views and even appreciate each other a bit better.

Please don't call me an idiot for this blog or cheesy ending. And see you in the threads!

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