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CommentsIf there’s one thing the internet is good for, it is providing a platform for people of all walks of life to voice their opinions. For those of us who are not celebrities, the internet is a way for us to start and contribute to conversations with people we may not normally have encountered in a world sans the online world.  But, some wonder if now that the barrier to entry for contributing to a national or international debate is substantially lower, we have degraded the overall quality of public discourse.

Anthony Zurcher of the BBCNews asked the Seattle Times editorial page editor Kate Riley for her thoughts on the issue.  “There are the trolls, of course, who throw mud in the comment sections of every published article – not so useful. But where I really think that opinion pages are making a difference is in modeling that old-school civil discourse. Disagree but don’t be disagreeable. Be tart and clever without name-calling,” said Riley.

Trolls in the comment sections are definitely an issue online, but sometimes the trolls are the people who write the articles. I won’t link to any pieces that I consider to be gobbled-gook click-bait, but some people essentially just string together a load of SEO-friendly, ire-inducing buzz words and hit “publish.”  This is especially true on the topic of black women’s romantic lives. Can the church say Amen?

The result is usually a short-lived social media firestorm that probably gave that publication or blogger more hits in a day than in a typical month. The public indignation inevitably dies down, lying in wait until the next inane article or op-ed is published.  That is just the way of the online world. There are lots of opinions out there, but there are also lots of ways to ignore them if you so choose.  Pretty much every social media network has ways to block, mute or filter what you see.

Overall, I think the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to what the internet delivers.  With a discerning eye (and a keen sense for that bs), the internet is a wonderful place to learn, indulge and be entertained.

Do you think having so many opinions online has taken the quality of public discourse down a notch?

Follow Demetria Irwin on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope and connect with her on Facebook.

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  • The internet is a gift and a curse. I think some of the many things that bother me about the internet is how some people try to act like they know it all and also how people have become so insensitive. I hate how people think they have to make a youtube video giving their opinion on everything. I also hate how the internet has made some people important and have a little stan following for doing basically nothing important. People get following just because they give their opinion on reality shows each week. Then it seems like everyone tries to outdo each other.

    • Moe

      Say it again!! There is one youtuber that comes to mind. He sits and spews hate against women and these other black women haters bow at his feet, make him feel like a God and so that’s how he act and thinks he should be treated. He’s gross and has contributed nothing positive to society, and yet the internet has him thinking that he is Jesus Christ.

  • ClutchReader

    I really thought this article was going to say something. All it says is there are trolls on the Internet–in comments and sometimes in articles themselves–and you can filter them out.

    Tell me something new. Go deeper. This article turned out to be click bait for me.

  • TyringtoMakeaDollar!

    Some of us take the internet too serious. To me, the internet is like reading a daily newspaper with many different opinions. When you start to take comments personal I think it is time to log off the site and go somewhere else or simply sign off. Just my 2-cents! However, we must remember that the more *clicks* the website gets the more money the site can make a living off of and simply try to pay their employees who run it. It is a catch-22 situation with these websites. No clicks mean NO MONEY.

  • No, there aren’t too many opinions. I think that the internet has democratized opinion and news making so it’s no longer just in the hands of the few and I love it. Wouldn’t have it any other way.