Combox Conquistadores

Isn’t the internet a frustrating place?

You put your ideas out there, you look at other’s thoughts, you want dialogue, but most of the time it just goes downhill. You look for affirmation of your own views, and you never engage what you disagree with. Normally you just rant and rave against it, and people on all the different sides of a question just ignore each other except to spout vitriol.

And, what does a man have to lose? He doesn’t know the person he’s excoriating in that combox; his opponent (as he likely sees him) is a complete stranger to him. He doesn’t worry about hurting the other guy’s feelings or making him angry. He doesn’t worry about continuing a useless argument and feeding the anger in both their hearts that will affect not only their combox comments but also the way they treat others. He just wants to be right. So many people waste so much of their time in this way, using energy better spent positively, and all they end up with is a bunch of anger and exhaustion.

Isn’t it amazing how powerful a keyboard can make you feel? And how damaging it can be? (Photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

I’ve been there. In both positions. Even if my comments aren’t nasty and in them I try to be understanding, anger burns in my heart, against people I don’t even know, either because they disagree with me or because they’ve been nasty to me. I assume righteousness and superiority to them in my heart, which is even worse than calling them names. As if I, a nameless, faceless, cyber-space entity have the power to change what they think just by saying something in a combox. As if I know everything and just have to set people straight if they would only just listen. I’m not saying it’s impossible for people to change from reading combox chatter. But there are ways to move people and the aptly-named flamewars are not one of them.

So you ask, why do I blog? I blog because I like to get my thoughts out where people can see them. Yes, if I can I want to reach people over the internet. But I want to reach them in a good way. Like a news article or a book can. I want to get people talking and thinking. In that way a blog is just like a print newspaper or a book. Except people can’t bash each other, especially not strangers, over those things–at least not so easily as on the internet.

I don’t have a wide readership (though I have been blessed with some readers and commenters) so no one has ever written nasty or unkind comments on my blog. I’m lucky there.

Considering the post I’ve just written, I suppose this is dangerous to ask, but what do you think? Do you think that the internet is a viable place for thoughtful dialogue? Or does it do more harm than good? Does it do any good at all?

If you want to comment, comment, but I’d suggest talking to the people you know, who are right in front you.

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