The City of Duncan has turned off comments on their Facebook page, as it got too toxic. (Citizen file)

The City of Duncan has turned off comments on their Facebook page, as it got too toxic. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Reconsider how we talk to each other online

It’s so bad that the City of Duncan has decided to shut off comments on their Facebook page

We really need to consider how we talk to each other online.

Anyone who spends any time on social media platforms will have seen the abundance of rude, false, mean-spirited, cruel and sometimes downright threatening things people feel free to post on the internet. You would logically think that the opportunity for wide dissemination would make people more cautious and measured, but in practice the anonymity, distance and sheer amount of information and comment that the internet provides has made the exact opposite true. Unfortunately, the more extreme the content, the more likely it is to be amplified, and there are those who take immense satisfaction in going viral, no matter what the context.

It’s so bad that the City of Duncan has decided to shut off comments on their Facebook page. They will still be posting information there, but people will not be able to respond.

It’s really too bad. This could have been a good way for people to communicate with the city if they had a genuine question or concern. But the overwhelmingly toxic nature of the postings was just too much for those unfortunate enough to have to sift through them on a regular basis to handle.

Apparently staff who had to go through the comments and respond found it terrible for their mental health. Someone who hasn’t had to do this kind of moderation can’t really understand just how awful this can be, how demoralizing and how it can eventually skew one’s view of the world offline as well. Who wants to be surrounded by people being mean all the time? One doesn’t have to be an emotionally fragile person to be negatively affected.

It’s not as simple as trying to block out negative feedback. Any municipal government is going to get that. There will be people who will not be happy with decisions made or not made. And they should be able to express that to their elected officials. Listening to constituents is a huge part of their jobs.

But there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to express those thoughts and feelings. You can be passionate and emphatic without being threatening and demoralizing. Unfortunately, on social media, a seemingly increasing number of people don’t think they need to be polite or respectful. They will type and send things they’d never say to someone’s face, or over the phone.

We implore people to reconsider how they are interacting with others online. Take a minute to remember that there’s a real person that will be reading your post. If we don’t, it is inevitable that more doors will start to close.

Editorials