OPINION COLUMNS

Comments are meant to spark conversation, not hatred

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Social media wears me out.

Although it is meant to keep people connected and informed, it regularly morphs into a venomous vehicle people use to spew hate.

Kristen Tribe

Kristen Tribe

I have personal accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and I also post and interact with Messenger readers on the newspaper’s accounts.

Personally, I enjoy the sites to interact with friends and family, especially those who don’t live locally. As a member of the media, I believe it’s a good way to share stories and keep your audience informed.

It’s a seemingly perfect tool because it’s practically an instantaneous way to reach those who are already readers and help create some new ones.

But its “perfection” often dissolves in the comments.

Unlike a blog post or a story posted on our website, we do not have the ability to screen comments prior to their appearance. That is not possible on Facebook. People write whatever they want, and it shows up, instantanously.

There are some stories in which I would choose to not allow comments, due to their sensitive nature. But again, that’s not possible on Facebook.

The purpose of comments on Facebook or in any online forum is to encourage a conversation, and I support that idea. There should be an exchange. But too often, the “conversation” devolves into name-calling, pushing political agendas and plain old arguing – or worse.

That defeats the purpose. The Messenger posted breaking news Tuesday morning and within six minutes, a comment was posted that sent the conversation in a downward spiral. Seven hours and 146 comments later, the “conversation” in the comments had nothing at all to do with the news story, but instead had turned into an argument between a handful of people.

Never mind that threats had been made, the lives of school children could have been in danger and the family at the center of the incident was devastated.

I enjoy the interaction with readers on the Messenger’s Facebook page, and I hope it helps facilitate a relationship between the newsroom and our readers. But some people abuse the privilege of being able to comment.

Why choose to be destructive?

2 Responses to “Comments are meant to spark conversation, not hatred”

  1. Rusty White says:

    “””Unlike a blog post or a story posted on our website, we do not have the ability to screen comments prior to their appearance.””” I believe that is called “ Freedom of Speech” is it not? If you were able to control what others say or believe it would not reflect the beliefs of others, but rather only those that believed as you do, would it not?

    “”That is not possible on Facebook. People write whatever they want, and it shows up, instantanously. “” “”Exactly”” why it is so popular because of the lack of “control by “”others”” to force their beliefs and agendas on all while silencing those they don’t agree with, is it not? Sadly in the media we see total control of what is presented and what can and can not be commented on. While there are “some” idiots with little class or manors, who can easily be ignored, it is far better than censorship or self serving beliefs and agendas, is it not?

    “”There are some stories in which I would choose to not allow comments, due to their sensitive nature. “” There is a fine line between “allowing comments” and censorship and silencing others differing beliefs.

    “”But again, that’s not possible on Facebook.”” What you see as a lack of ability to control is actual free speech in actions. Sure there are some really ugly comments but that is reality, for me the question is why is there so much hate. I would rather see it out in the open rather than “not allowed”.

    “”The purpose of comments on Facebook or in any online forum is to encourage a conversation,”” You would be correct except, while your welcome to “your” beliefs and opinions why do all others have to bow to your perceptions as to what the “purpose” of an open forum is?

    “”That defeats the purpose.”” No it goes against your beliefs in what the purpose is, does it not? If you are welcome to have your beliefs as to what the purpose is, are not “all” others welcome to theirs? After all it is an open forum not one under your control nor ability to deny comment if you so choose.

    “”But some people abuse the privilege of being able to comment.”” In the real world and on a truly open and honest forums freedom of speech is not a “privilege” to be controlled by “others”. While it is truly sad to see some of others opinions and beliefs, it is better to have it out in the open rather than “not allowed”, is it not?

    “”Why choose to be destructive?”” While I to become irritated and angered by some peoples comments, I just choose to ignore them or state my beliefs and go on. That is far better than having censorship and only controlled and allowed comments. Being able to see who has common sense and respect for others is far better than having a “sanitized” and/or “only approved” comments allowed IMHO.

  2. I sat back and read all of those posts and it tuely got way off topic and very hateful.It turned your report of breaking news into an attack on each other.

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