Rumination on Online Etiquette

A few days ago a person named “David” wrote this comment on one of my posts:

“You are a douche bag!!! LIBERAL ASSHOLE!!”

I have the ability to delete comments, but I figured the purpose of this blog in the first place is, at least in part, free-thinking discourse, as you can see in the “Why” tab of this site:

Our nation is in desperate need of some independent and critical thinking. This is not a free nation, as we are told every day. Ours is not a free press. We are not free to do what we want to do. And one of the basic causes of this tragedy is that there isn’t any debate. We are being told what to do, what to buy, how to vote and what to think and feel.

The Bush administration took away personal liberties and privacy to an unprecedented degree. And the public did not appear to even notice.

We need to speak up and talk back.

We owe it to our system, our nation, our spirit and our own thinking and feeling to respond with ideas, thoughts, discourse and challenge.

Being the good sport that I am, or douche bag liberal asshole, I left it there. But I am still puzzled. Why did “David” write this? Clearly, I must have pissed him off. Nobody calls somebody an asshole in capital letters without there being some emotion involved. I read the entire post carefully again. The only possibly offensive statement in the entire post I could find was when I said that I didn’t agree with Luttrell that  George W. Bush was one of the best presidents of all time. I didn’t even call him a bad president – whether I think that or not could not be obvious to “David.”

So rather than  deleting his vulgar comment, or letting it stand and speak for itself, I am highlighting it here with another post, putting an extra spotlight on it. Does “David” win?

We all have heard of or possibly experienced road rage. How can two normal human beings yell at each other, flip each other off, in traffic? Because the human connection is missing when we are moving 60 miles an hour and are shielded behind steel and glass in a car.

Would “David” say  those things to my face if  he sat next to me at Starbucks? I doubt it. We would talk politely, and we would agree to disagree on our political outlook. I believe we would not verbally assault each other. Written communication, and especially anonymous comments, where we can hide behind an email address and a name, both of  which could be fictional, somehow entitles us and emboldens us to assault one another.

The written word is stark, it can be permanent. The pen is mightier than the bullet. It can do much damage and hurt, and it can destroy lives.

In this case, it gave me reason to ruminate and write these thoughts. Thanks, “David.” 

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