Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Political Discourse Online


Our talk today about political discourse on television got me thinking a lot about political discourse on the internet.  We were complaining today that many of the videos we watched featured a lot of name-calling and other somewhat childish behavior. It struck me that the same type of discourse takes place online. I saw this a lot before the presidential election on social media sites like Facebook and you see it every day in comments on articles or pictures. Like the arguments on television, they are often pointless and really don’t change anything. They say more about the person commenting than they do about the issue, but sometimes it is so difficult not to comment.  

Has anyone else run into these issues? Do we simply ignore these types of arguments or is there a way to improve the state of political discourse online? This article shows four ways to change discourse online.  These points are helpful, but I doubt many people actually follow them. Can the state of political discourse online be changed? What about on television?

8 comments:

  1. I have definitely seen the discourse you're describing. Often I see ridiculous amounts of attacks and arguments on things as trivial as YouTube music videos, Facebook posts, etc. that really don't have any relevant discussion or necessity of being voiced.

    I found the article quite interesting, but like you said it's kind of difficult to tell if that would be effective since most individuals probably won't abide by those rules. I do think that it could be possible and have a possible impact on discussion if comments were monitored for content. This would probably only work for higher profile companies or media sites, but I think that it would be beneficial for the audience to have a way to comment and discuss without the attacks online and the useless amounts of argumentation that happens a lot.

    Like I mentioned in my blog post for the week, I really think that the argumentation, at least in the point of ads, on television is not as relevant anymore and is moving toward online mediums. I'm not sure there's a way to change the discourse of shows like we watched in class today, simply because people will watch it not for the political discussion but for the entertainment factor, and with that ratings will keep shows similar to those on air.

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  2. The article has some great points for starting and having better online arguments. ("Good Arguments") The cool thing about the article is the first point. If only people could actually start off the argument with "ways to make a difference". Instead, arguments often begin with attacks on the others beliefs, actions, or voice. The arguments usually begin with somebody who does blame somebody, they don't listen to all viewpoints, and they don't listen to the other side. This is how petty arguments start and end. With persistent badgering back and forth with no progress in anybody's thought process.

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  3. The thing I've noticed about social media sites like Facebook is that people seem to voice their opinions without even thinking about what their words mean. Yes we all do that verbally too, but Facebook makes it easier to write what you're thinking and immediately hit enter. Before, when we had a "submit" or "post" button to hit before we could post something, we were kind of forced to think about what we had just written before we posted it. With posting with the Enter button, we just post post post. We don't think about what we said until someone backlashes against it in the comments. These four points are a great idea if we could get more people to think before they post. This would solve so many arguments.
    One example that came to my mind was when a kid at my high school was killed in a car crash one day a couple months ago. One of my friends who didn't even go to my school posted a status about how funny she thought it was that the kid was hit by a DOT truck. Every one of her friends became angry at this status (as they should be). It wasn't until her friends told her how terrible this was that she considered what she wrote and deleted it.
    Like I was saying, we need to think about our posts just as we should be thinking about our words in verbal conversations.

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  4. I agree with Amanda in that social media make it super easy to speak without thinking. This is why it is hard to take anything said on Facebook, Twitter, etc. seriously. I like the points in the article too, mostly the ways to make a difference section, because it actually moves people to action (or talks about it anyway). Talking about issues on social media sites do nothing but aggregate the person you are opposing. This is where I agree with Postman when he talks about the importance of a typographic culture. People actually considered what they were saying, and they were not irrational in the process. If we actually had to hand write something versus type it on Facebook, I bet our words would be a lot different. Currently on Facebook, there is the gay marriage debate going on. I chose not to voice my opinion, because what good would it do? None. It wouldn't change anything, and I don't think Facebook is the place to talk about such issues if you want to keep your friends anyway. However, if I was to comment on the issue, I would remain neutral and recommend how to make a difference versus simply bickering about it.

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  5. I definitely have run into these things online. I have even had professors talk about blogs they follow and how many "idiots" are online sharing their ideas. I'm sure that they didn't type nasty things but they at least thought about them. This makes me think back to earlier in the semester when we watched that video on women in the work place. Maybe its not just women who are made to hate and be critical of one another, but maybe it is just human nature. Every person is critical of others no matter what they think. If a crack head walks into a room with shitty cloths on then you're going to automatically judge him in some way. I feel that it is just worse on the internet because the person has a screen to hide behind. Now the fact that it has leaked onto political discourse on television is absolutely insane but the television executives know it sells and it is entertaining, which is exactly what Postman is getting at.

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  6. This reminds me of the clip we watched with the popular anchor and the very left and very right political enthusiasts debating about issues in America and even America itself. John hits it spot on: it's entertaining. Why does televised, staged wrestling exist? Why do we stare at the two kids in the hallway throwing punches and elbows back in high school/middle school? Because it's intriguing. We like violence and disagreement. it makes shows like Jersey Shore and The Kardasians so stinking popular because there's conflict. I think it relates back to our own curiosity to know the outcome of the fight whether verbal or physical. Political arguments can't be much different. In the end everyone (no matter how many times they shout how much they don't care) want to know the outcome. There are some who take the game more seriously than others and create an environment, an attitude to express that outcome strongly or try to suppress an alternative outcome leading to bashing the opponent. It's mere speculation, though.

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  7. I see many of these types of discussions on facebook and also on comments sections of articles. Even getting out of the realm of politics and onto film, sport, and video game articles (which I read a lot of), there are a lot of arguments that involve name calling and ignoring the other members who are posting. A lot of times people just seem intent on winding people up, and they just seem to want to argue (like this guy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y).

    I think the article you posted offers some valid suggestions. Listening to the other side and trying to see things from their perspective is very beneficial in my opinion. Hopefully internet discourse matures, though I'm sure there will always be angry rant arguments out there.

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  8. I enjoyed the article you posted, and I think it offers useful advice. I have seem many instances of political discourse on Facebook that are often woefully inaccurate statements. I think that it is just too easy for someone to hit a "share" button without thinking critically about the content of what they're sharing. Critical thinking is the key to smart public discourse. I usually don't respond to such things on Facebook, but sometimes the impulse is just too strong. Whenever I do respond, I try to be respectful as possible and follow the suggestions from the article.

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