You never know what’s going to go viral on the internet these days. What Americans “like,” ‘‘love’’ or “retweet” on social media goes a long way toward revealing what people in this country find interesting or important.
That’s both disheartening and disturbing, because the only thing hotter than the weather at the moment is the hateful rhetoric being spewed around social media.
It’s disturbing because almost all of the vitriolic rantings and outbursts are political in nature. That’s disheartening because the March 2020 primary is still six months away and the November 2020 general election is 16 months away. There’s an old joke about politicians starting to run for their next office the day after they are sworn into the elected position they just won. As constituents we are the punchline, or rather punching bag, in this particular scenario.
However, it’s not only this country’s politics that concern members of this board. Over the last few weeks we’ve seen slanderous statements on social media about former significant others, neighbors, employers and businesses.
The text of the First Amendment runs at the top of this page every day. The right to free speech, religion, to peaceable assembly and of the press are all awesome privileges. We believe our Founding Fathers envisioned those rights would be an asset to our society.
They’re not. At least not in the circus-like atmosphere that passes for diplomacy and thoughtfulness in today’s world of social media. It is, in essence, just another form of bullying, with those hiding behind their keyboards targeting the recipients of their hate.
But here’s the thing about opinions: No matter what side of an issue you stand on, someone’s going to disagree with you. If an editorial, column or letter on this page challenges a reader to form an opinion, or strengthens a reader’s existing stance on an issue, whether it be to agree or disagree, then that writer has done their job.
We can say pretty much anything.
But just because we can doesn’t mean we should.