Minnesota Opinion: A dream about Facebook comments
Summary: Would you say the things you are about to type to that person’s face. A stranger whom you know nothing about. Or better yet, picture your child saying it to another child. Would you let them say it?
Here’s a dream, many newspapers have, about Facebook: People would only be able to add comments to a newspaper story if they actually read the story.
If you didn’t click on the story, you would not be able to post anything about it.
What a wonderful world it would be.
Yes, we know it’s only a fanciful dream and there’d be ways to get around the system. People could just click on the story, glance at the headline and then go right back to our Facebook page where they could start stirring the pot and posting things that are way off base, mean-spirited, hypercritical or just flat-out wrong.
But it’s still fun to dream a little.
No more comments that would have nothing to do with the actual story.
No more politicizing stories that have nothing to do with politics.
No more nauseating memes that people attach to other comments that don’t reflect their own opinions 100 percent.
No more slamming another person based on their political views, how they look, their age or their past comments.
No more knee-jerk reactions that only muddy the waters or add heat instead of light.
No more branding someone as a libtard or a snowflake or a racist based on a single Facebook post.
No more name calling. Period.
No more slamming the newspaper for simply publishing a letter to the editor from a reader, not the newspaper, on the Opinion page.
Maybe Facebook could use some sort of artificial intelligence program that would instantaneously compare comments to an actual story and disable ones that fall into certain categories – irrelevant, inaccurate, inane, hateful and so on.
We know. That reeks of censorship and people’s right to express an opinion – a precious right that any good newspaper will fight to defend, tooth and nail.
So yes, we know that trying to improve the quality of the debate on Facebook is just a fantasy.
But does it have to be?
The next time you’re on the newspaper’s Facebook page and are itching to fire off a comment. Wait. Count to 10. Calm down. Ask yourself a few questions: Is what I am about to type have anything to do with the story? Have I read the story? Will my comment add something substantive to the issue or is it just adding fuel to the fire?
Picture the person you are commenting to standing right in front of you. Would you say the things you are about to type to that person’s face. A stranger whom you know nothing about. Or better yet, picture your child saying it to another child. Would you let them say it?
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to change the minds of those who only hurl insults and disrespect. As the saying goes, never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and besides, the pig likes it.
This editorial is the opinion of the Alexandria Echo Press' editorial board.