Magnanimity: The Balm for Our Brutalized Public Discourse
"Every man is his own pope and philosopher-king on the Internet, where our semi-formed and semi-informed opinions are cast as absolutes. Convinced of our perfect knowledge and infallible righteousness, we denounce and demean in harsh, uncharitable terms the arguments of others, and even their very persons."
"The advent of the Internet brought with it high hopes for the creation of a great “online community,” where everyone would be given an equal voice, and where informed political, religious, and cultural discourse would take place in a spirit of patient civility, careful consideration, and shared learning. Here at last the democratic dream would be realized, as elites—magazine editors, television presidents, newspaper reporters—who had heretofore filtered and controlled public conversation would be circumvented, and the opinions of Everyman would rule.
What we have gotten instead of a people’s paradise is largely a plague of online trollishness, a nightmare of cacophonous incivility, and a mobocracy beyond the worst fears of the highest Federalists among our Founding Fathers."
Magnanimity: The Balm for Our Brutalized Public Discourse
'Oh Yeh! Oh Yeh!'
Oh, Yeh... It will be interesting to see how users here at HP respond to your thread. Very interesting. (smiling but not laughing)
Sharlee, Gus has some of the best forum threads on HubPages. Gus is indeed a scholar & a gentleman. I won't call him Gus anymore, I should revert to calling him Mr. Anderson. He deserves the utmost of respect!!!
I in no way showed a lack of respect for GA. I also consider him a gentleman, and over time I have come to more than realize he is a scholar. Not sure why you would assume I was being derogatory in any respect. My comment is very clear. I noted it would be interesting to see how others respond to the thread. Yet, you seem to have found my comment in some respect insulting, and even felt emboldened to admonish me.
I guess the keyboard gave you an avenue to do just that. Did you read the article?
I am very sure GA understood my comment totally.
Yes, I did understand your comment Sharlee. And you were right about the possible directions the thread might take. Credence2 is a good example.
His comment was valid for his 'take' on the quoted blurb, it was just that his perception of the article's point wasn't mine. I hadn't thought of it as he perceived it.
Well, I like the idea of everyone expressing their opinions and truly discerning readers sort between what is opinion and absolute.
We can express our opinions on matters without having to be boorish or rude.
Raucousness is a price we pay for free speech and expression, but it is a price that I am willing to pay when faced with the alternative.
These "elites" also control the flow of information and had their own "agenda" that was not always in the interest of honest and accurate dissemination of that flow. I will take their decline in preference for everyone having their say.
I believe the assessment in your last paragraph is unduly harsh, there is still a lot of good exchange of ideas and concepts with revelations through internet communication unimaginable just two generations ago. We get a better grasp as to who we are and what the other fellow is thinking without all the window dressing and filters.
I can't take everything said and believed by a group of men in powdered Whigs and knickerbockers as totally representative and desirable in a 21st century milieu.
It certainly seems that we took away two different perceptions of the quoted blurb.
It didn't even bring consideration of Free Speech to mind when I read it. Of course, I am all for free speech and would not have endorsed the blurb by posting it if I had gathered the same impression that you did.
I took two thoughts from it; One, that the 'net allows almost unlimited sources of information making us less reliant and influenced by the 'established' media information outlets, (a good thing), and two, that with the personal freedom and anonymity the 'net provides for anyone and everyone to post their own information/thoughts/opinions it also allows the worst of us to be displayed, (a bad thing).
Consider the impersonal and rude keyboard behavior that can be found all over the 'net that the same person would never ever display in interpersonal situations. It is the anonymity of the keyboards that circumvents those norms of decorum.
That is the second point I took from the blurb. Too many folks think their opinion is the only right one and they have whatever information their friend Google found to fit their confirmation bias to prove they are right.
They might not challenge someone in person, but they become invincible warriors ready to slay their dissenters with either their wit or their venom—from behind their magic keyboard.
Hence my firm agreement with that last paragraph. We both know that these HP forums are like a gathering of angels compared to what can be so easily found elsewhere on the 'net.
Of course, there is a lot of "good folks" on the 'net, but there are a lot of idiot knotheads in full display too.
I wasn't knocking the 'net or free speech. I was agreeing with the author's opinion of the idiocy that the 'net offers a platform for.(yes, I know the bad comes with the good)
Speaking of "last paragraphs," I think your closing statement also misses the point of the author. It wasn't about what the 'net should be according to their, (the Founders), morals, it was about what they hoped society would become.
GA, in a way it is good to know where that "bottom/bad" lies to get the depth and extent of any sentiment or idea as expressed by the worst of us.
There are a lot of cowards that hide behind a keyboard, but their attitudes need to be understood and assessed in my opinion to get some parameters around issues and an inkling as to the number of corroborative attitudes and where it is likely to lead.
All you have to do is follow yahoo comments for any particular article.
You have to speculate, these 18th century men having any idea what life would be like in just another century into their future. Technological innovation, social change, even the most far sighted of them, Benjamin Franklin, did not have a crystal ball for such a purpose.
Morals, behavior, civility, those things are timeless Cred. 1789 or 2789, they will still be important and basic to our societies.
Of course, Franklin couldn't have foreseen the 'net, but he certainly could have foreseen degenerative behavior and its danger to civilized society.
I am not advocating 'net restrictions for ideas I don't approve of, I am merely agreeing with the observation that its anonymity brings out the worst in many of us. Just like the hoods did for the clan and masks do for idiots.
It's a human behavior thing. Mary is Sister Mary in public during the day—a saint, but at night, behind her keyboard, she's Mary the Merciless.
Let me just point out that a lot of, if not most, rudeness and bullying on the internet is not anonymous or cloaked. It is done right out in the open by people with photos and profiles accompanying their real names.
I think the internet is merely a reflection of how we've always been. It's just that now millions of people can see President Trump call Hillary a "skank" rather than the privileged few in his immediate vicinity.
Then it gets shared and repeated.
Angry Uncle Jed's hatred is out in the open now, rather than contained at the dinner table or local bar.
Yes, it is just a reflection of how we have always been, but, I think anonymity is still a big party—regardless of the brave ones that claim to be displaying their real identity.
As a note; Trump, Hillary, really? Are you Randy's placeholder now?
I really don't see how a discussion of internet civility can ignore the fact that the leader of the United States is an internet bully. Surely, it is relevant, as he was elected by the people.
Again with Trump? Do you think the topic of the linked article wasn't a valid observation before 2016?
This isn't a Trump thread PrettyPanther, and internet trolls were a 'thing' well before 2016.
Yup, he was a troll before 2016 too.
But I agree with your point.
Although hers is valid too.
My comment merely used him as the most obvious example of how internet bullying and incivility is often not anonymous. I did not intend to make him the subject of the thread. One could suggest you are changing the subject by bristling at him being used as an example of how bullies work without anonymity.
My point was to offer some counterpoint to the anonymity argument. Some people actually thrive on knowing many, many other people besides the victim of their nastiness will see their handiwork.
Ironically, Trump supporters complain about "brutalized public discourse" but don't have a problem with brutalizing people who don't love Trump.
Shhhhh.....one is not supposed to point out the glaring incongruity of a Trump fan opining on the lack of civility in public discourse. It sidelines the conversation to suggest that leadership by example might be a legitimate part of the problem. Or, to suggest that continuing to support a leader who demonstrates daily the very behavior they are bemoaning might be part of the problem.
It's too damned frustrating for them to be reminded of these things.
Ha..sure is. It almost makes a truthful conversation impossible.
That is how I see it. It's like trying to discuss how to put out a fire while the house is burning down around you. You say, "Hey, the house is on fire" and they say, "Stop trying to change the subject. We're talking about how to put out a fire."
I may have to disagree with you here, although Franklin was a pretty far sighted fellow for his time, what would his contemporaries have thought?
Gay marriage and universal adult suffrage; do you think that the standard for degenerative and uncivilized behavior for a man living 250 years ago would not differ from what that standard is today?
I knew that was coming Cred. I left the door open with my "morals" reference. But, we have been down this road before. Gay marriage and universal adult suffrage are not the type of core morals I speak of.
This is indeed true. The internet is a marvelous invention; however, it has been abused significantly by those wo use such a source to relay negative or pedagogic propaganda. It has also been abused by people who are cyberbullies. Yes, there are those who use the internet to reveal the very lowest common denominator. Where is the morality, the ethos of it all?
I agree with most of what he said.
This reminded me of a thread, not that long ago. If im not mistaken, you didn't like it. You weren't the only one. Can't remember the title.
Well, now that's vague isn't it?
Reminds me of my wife. She will try to remember something and look at me and say "What was that . . .? You know." No context, no clues, and no, I don't know. ;-)
But you are probably right, there have been more than a few thread topics I haven't liked.
Hello there. I agree almost 100 percent with the general thrust of the piece. However, I can also understand the free speech trade-off argument made by Credence.
Ultimately, my opinion is that, as a society, we were not ready for the Internet. However, with time, future generations will come to handle the discourse more akin to "real life." After all, these generations are being raised, and will be raised, with the Internet as a central form of communication. They are also being educated to better vet sources and what not. Given some years, we may very well the "patient civility, careful consideration, and shared learning" communications. It's just not something that's going to happen overnight, obviously.
You will see a better explanation in my response to Credence2. I think you also have a point about future generations assimilation of the 'net and its powers, but my point is the social cost of the freedom of anonymity that empowers too many folks that shouldn't have that power.
GA, Hopefully, my initial comment was not taken as an insult, it certainly was not meant to be. The context of my comment was simple and clear as written. I felt your thread would attract some interesting comments, which it has. The article was thought-provoking, and I knew it would provide some interesting comments. I did not comment on the article myself, due to feeling it would be complicated to respond to on the internet. It was very provoking.
It did not take long for my comment to be scrutinized, and a user compelled too uses their keyboard, and express more or less that they felt I did not show you proper respect. It just appears some have become jaded, unable to see the true context of a comment or read the words letting them mean what they say instead of reading in some form of negativity.
I just knew this thread would become interesting. I will say, I did not think it would be my comment that would light the match. But, there will be no fire, the article you posted was well taken, enlightening, and most of all appreciated.
In my view the header you quoted said it all.
"Magnanimity: The Balm for Our Brutalized Public Discourse"
The article in itself gave way to what I see as truth. The internet clearly provides one a forum to say just about anything they pleas via a keyboard. Does what one say need to be true or just an opinion I think either is fine, as long as the person realizes it's their truth, it's their opinion and realizes some may not agree with either.
Should we expect magnanimity on the internet or is it blatantly obvious it has little existence on chat's, other forms od social media? In my own experience I have found there are people out there that do possess animus soul, are natural kind, big-hearted, and have the innate nobility, and can show forgiveness and not showing resentment. It is not ever hard to spot them on a forum. They are the ones that are usually being either ignored or attacked venomously. Yes, it is very possible We have convinced ourselves that in addition to being experts on every issue, we are perfect judges of the souls of people whom we have never met but whom we have merely seen on TV or read about on the web. Is it that easy to know someone that well without actually looking them in the eye? The internet makes it very easy to just assume. Assume anything that suits one's narrative, and so easy lash out with the vague mean-spirited comment, denigrating the author of any given comment that catches the eye.
"One needs only to read the comments section on nearly any web journal, or on social media, to lose hope—at least in democracy, and perhaps even in one’s fellow man altogether." (Stephen M. Klugewicz)
I found one thing in the article that really stood out -- The subject of many news stories today are very simple stories offering an account of what one political, sports, or entertainment figure has said weather it is about another public figure. The news cycle is dominated by this he-said, she-said stories. They very infrequently report deeds. So, is it possible we have too much information, too many unwarranted opinions from people whose opinions just simply don’t matter?
I consider magnanimity is a virtue, I believe it is innate. Yes, one can try to be magnanimous but I think it is a very hard trait to acquire. In my view just following the comments here is very telling.
I appreciate you posting this article, it certainly was an eye-opener.
Great comment Sharlee. I was saving the "magnanimity" blurb for later because, like you, I strongly believe it is a point we should all take to heart.
From the article:
'What is the solution? We need to embrace Saint Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians that “we now we see through a glass, darkly.” We need to imitate Socrates, who knew that the beginning of wisdom was to acknowledge that he knew nothing. It would behoove us all, when expressing an opinion, to preface statements with “it seems that,” “from what I can glean,” or “perhaps it is the case that. . . "
"But what is ultimately called for in modern public discourse is not mere humility, but magnanimity, which literally means having a “large spirit,” or a “great soul.” The fortunate among us have known at least one such person with a great soul—that person who never gossips, who appears not to see faults in others, overlooking, or at least silently tolerating such failings, and seeming to notice only the good qualities of his fellow man. “All we can do is to make the best of our friends,” Thomas Jefferson wrote to his daughter. “Love and cherish what is good in them, and keep out of the way of what is bad: but no more think of rejecting them for it than of throwing away a piece of music for a flat passage or two.” We should apply this broadmindedness not only to our family and friends, but also to strangers, and to their arguments as well. Rather than mimicking the troll’s craven need to denounce and demean, we ought to seek to commend and to compliment. "
I have been fortunate to have developed, (at least most of the time), the habit of conditioning my comments with; "I think" or It seems" etc. It makes acknowledging a mistake a lot less painful.
But working on that magnanimity thing is a task, and still a work in progress for me. Sometimes the best I can do is just shake my head and remain silent. ;-)
Other times the idiots get the best of me and a piece of Mark Twain's advice is once more driven home as a universal truth.
"I found one thing in the article that really stood out -- The subject of many news stories today are very simple stories offering an account of what one political, sports, or entertainment figure has said weather it is about another public figure. The news cycle is dominated by this he-said, she-said stories. They very infrequently report deeds. So, is it possible we have too much information, too many unwarranted opinions from people whose opinions just simply don’t matter?"
I welcome the opinion of everyone which can include Barbra Streisand or James Woods, or even that of the Internet troll. It is up to the reader to sort the wheat from the chaff, and each of us may do that sorting differently depending on which side of an issue we find ourselves.
I have always been more concerned about too little information or information being withheld over an excess of the same.
There are no unwarranted opinions and everybody's opinion matters. Just because I may not subscribe to certain points of view and can take issue, I cannot deny that this is what this open forum is all about.
I too appreciate hearing other's opinions, more information is better than less. I don't agree with your view that "There are no unwarranted opinions and everybody's opinion matters. It's very clear to participate in an internet chat, it's necessary and fair to listen to all opinions, and
as you said sort the wheat from the chaff.
"There are no unwarranted opinions and everybody's opinion matters. "
Your nobility is impressive Cred. Unfortunately, (for me?), there are a lot of idiots and knuckleheads in my world, and their opinions are neither warranted nor do they matter.
It would probably take less than ten minutes to find more than a few "opinions" that even your humble nobility couldn't stomach. It's like that old chestnut that there are no stupid questions . . . well hell, in what world is that true? In my world, I have heard a lot of stupid questions.
Can I get a visitor's pass to your world for a visit?
Told you I was a work in progress.
For example; Just this morning I had a chance to practice. At the grocery checkout the girl asked me if I wanted paper or plastic! What the hell!
I was just about to tell that little twit how stupid that question was because of course, I wanted paper. Did that little 16-year-old minnion think I would want to add to our ocean's plastic pollution, to add to the plastic particles ingested by our sea life which in turn adds to our own plastic chemicals ingestion?
Or did she think I wanted to ignore my duty to our planet and add more plastic to our landfills to just lay there and fester and be found hundreds of years from now—just so I could have the convenience of those nifty plastic bag carry-handles, and their utility to be reused as trash bags at home?
I was about to ask her if she spent her school time passing notes and checking her make-up instead of learning about the dangers of pollution and how bad those plastic bags were for our environment?
I was even about to wonder aloud if the little twit even knew who Greta was, or if she even cared about the planet she lived on.
Yep, I was all set to let her know how stupid her question was when I remembered these forums. So in the spirit of trying to be a more magnanimous person, (while in my head I really blasted her with all the above), I simply smiled and said: "Paper please."
You're right; not your strong suit. Sorry, but it needs work.
I liked it. I experience a similar process while reading my Facebook feed.
I exercise my magnanimity muscles there and let them rest here. ;-)
You know something GA, I would have just assumed she was doing her job, doing what she was told by her employer as part of her job. I may have even felt a bit grateful to her for asking. Hey, I think to be a magnanimous person. LOL
Now if the packer would have reminded me of any of what you were thinking in your grocery store scenario. My magnanimous attitude may have been overrun by my "Oh really and I asked you attitude".
You are welcome to my world of live and let live, permitting speech short of threats and verbal abuse.
Akin to not "yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre.
I have heard a lot of "stupid questions" in my world as well. But, in my experience the question many might consider stupid many times needs to be asked if for no other reason except the "clear the air" and assure understanding of a point. People can be embarrassed if they fear that they ask stupid questions.
I am content to dismiss unwarranted and irrelevant opinions as such only after I have heard them and decided that was in fact what they were.
"I am content to dismiss unwarranted and irrelevant opinions as such only after I have heard them and decided that was in fact what they were."
There you go. I agree. And the same goes for those questions.
However, just because you wait to hear them doesn't change what they are.
But, how do you know That unless you have heard them
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