In this age dominated by screens, we have become more prone to sitting in our cars, houses and workplaces and watching the world at a safe remove. From our couches, it’s easy to have an opinion about everything. From that safe perspective, we know everything, and we can comment, sometimes brutally, without fear of being called out.
It’s an age of anonymity masquerading as connectivity. We seem to be more global, more in contact with people who may live hundreds of miles away. We can date people we’ve never even met.
But in reality, we are hiding behind the safety of our screens, posting only photos that frame us as we want to be seen, using screen names and judging people in the online arena that we would never criticize if they were standing on front of us.
This has not brought out the best in many of us. Accountability — being held responsible for our actions and our words — keeps us kinder.
Something I've also observed is that it's a small percentage of people who perpetrate this negative behaviour, but they make the most noise so it appears as if there are many. Once you have factored in the silent majority who do not respond or call the person out, you realise that the problem cases are easily under 1% (judging by noise-makers versus total followers in a group). Their toxic behaviour though results in others not wanting to engage on the Internet and many end up leaving the groups. It's very sad that the under 1% get to negatively influence the 99%.
The message though is actually directed at the under 1% as the silent majority are quite correct not to feed the trolls and create an online slinging match. If the under 1% cannot respectively motivate a counter-argument for something and cannot restrain themselves from abusing others, they probably need to be moderated out of the group. Freedom of speech does not equal abusing the majority.