Letter to the Editor: Courtesy non-existent online

By Madeleine Hubbard

Growing up, my mother told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Recently, I have adjusted that proverb to, “If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.”

Most of us got a Facebook account around the same time as our parents and are still trying to navigate new social media platforms. Sadly, common courtesy seems non-existent online. People often resort to name-calling, mean jokes and personal attacks instead having an actual conversation with someone they disagree with.

Social media allows people to hide behind a screen and say whatever they want without fully feeling the repercussions of their actions. Countless times, people have said things to me over social media that they would never say in person.

In the era of the keyboard warrior, many type with reckless disregard. It is incredibly easy to not think before posting online. A meme might be a fun comeback to an argument, but it in no way helps further dialogue. Calling someone names online is easy, but it belittles the fact that there are actual Nazis, Antifa, etc. In order to have meaningful discourse on any subject, both parties must be civil.

The first person to be discourteous has their argument delegitimized. If everyone in a discussion resorts to name-calling, they might as well be on a playground.

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There is no such thing as winning an argument online. You can’t change someone’s opinion through a comment thread. In a polarized world, face-to-face dialogue is the only way to make a difference. Social media depersonalizes interactions and brings out the worst in many. It is tempting to hide behind a screen, but if you actually want to create change, the place to do it is not in an ultimately meaningless Facebook post.

Madeleine Hubbard is a sophomore in Media.

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Editor’s note: Madeleine Hubbard is a former Illini Media Company employee.