In response to last weeks class, I know I’m a little late, but I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on online discourse.
I do think that constructive online discourse is possible. I think this because in the world we live in today, almost everything is possible online. However, I do think that there is many, many factors that limit the constructiveness of the discussions. One might think that being in an online community would be better, because people have to really think about their thoughts and write them down before anyone can read it, so it would be more likely that in that time they are able to maybe cool down or think more rationally about what they are saying. In a face-to-face disagreement or heated discussion, I think a big problem is that people say things that they might later regret, because they didn’t take the time to think about what they were saying, and how it might be taken by other people.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen in online discussions. I think there is a lot of negativity surrounding them because of the anonymity people are allowed online. When people are forced to own up to their opinions (good or bad) I think they spend a lot more time focusing on what they are saying, but when they are able to post things and voice their opinions without anyone knowing who they are, that’s when things can get very uncivil, and therefore nonconstructive.
I think that it is possible to change someone’s minds in an online discussion, just the same as it is possible to change someone’s mind in a face-to-face conversation. Online discussions can be just as persuasive than personal interaction, as long as the people are remembering that while in an online space might be easier for them to separate themselves from their words, to truly share your opinions you just have to think about what you are saying. I think as a society we have a lot to still learn about how to properly communicate in an online community, but I definitely think it is possible!