The Internet is the invisible embodiment of the marketplace of ideas. It’s a place for ideas to roam free and unrestricted.
But of course, there are downsides to that liberty.
When it comes to internet forums, feelings can be hurt. World views can be shattered. Egos can be smashed to smithereens. But critical thinking skills can be honed. Argumentation abilities can be improved. Plains of consciousness can be expanded. The internet is a double-edged sword.
We have all seen an inundation of comments over the past week, culminating Tuesday night when election results rolled in. Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter or via text message, both sides of the political spectrum either relished victory or cursed defeat.
And yes, it has gotten to be pretty damned annoying for those who could care less, or those of us who just wanted to move forward. But this mild, 24-hour annoyance does not justify putting blinders on to ignore political discourse.
I, like many, came dangerously close to hiding many friends on Facebook based on non-stop commentary. I say “dangerously close” because it is an unfortunately treacherous concept that some citizens feel the need to shutter up their windows to those they either disagree with or are annoyed by.
Technology is great and expands our worlds. In that same vein, it absolutely should not be used to shrink our horizons.
We can already selectively filter our news sources, and that is hazardous enough. Think Gov. Scott Walker is the bane of existence? Well, where do you get your news? The Huffington Post? It’s easy to subscribe only to sources that reinforce your notions of the world. Like I cautioned yesterday, don’t do that. It’s all too convenient to only read one or two select news outlets instead of exposing yourself to a multitude that will challenge your politics.
So we should all embrace the diversity of discourse that can arise on the internet. Yeah, reading a novel of a Facebook status that beatifies President Barack Obama is annoying. However, this doesn’t mean you should hide that person’s status updates. That would just be lazy.
If you see something you disagree with or have doubts about, question it. Don’t be afraid. Don’t sweep it under the rug. A strong country is built on an educated electorate, and in our generation, the internet is the most accessible forum for political discourse. We ought to embrace each and every political statement on it because only the strong ones will survive.
So it goes in the marketplace of ideas.
Reginald Young ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in legal studies and Scandinavian studies.