I’ve been reading much recently on the topic of internet civility, and civility in general. While the discussion is often couched in terms of this being a relatively new phenomenon, it is not wholly without precedent in the ages prior to our present epoc of near instantaneous communication. Additionally the finger of blame for the lack of civility is also frequently pointed to anonymity that the internet can offer. Again, while it may be a contributing factor, anonymity is not the sole reason for why people so frequently spit linguistic venom at those whose opinions or views differ from their own.
Honestly feel out of my depth delving into the topic of internet “trolls” and why they do what they do. I’m a simple Web Developer and Technology Geek. And since working with and on the internet is a large part of my chosen profession, I tend to view the conversations that happen on various internet venues and forums with the same level of interest that a sewer worker views the sludge that passes through his pipes - of passing interest, occasionally fascinating, but I never take it personally, and I avoid taking it home with me.
That being said, I have long had a personal rule to never say anything anonymously that I’d hesitate to say to someone in person. I believe that anonymity has a purpose and a place, but using anonymity as a shield to fling verbal excrement is the tactic of cowards and devils. I also believe that if you disagree with someone, if you cannot respond respectfully (and dare I say lovingly) then you should not respond at all, and simply walk away. Lastly, I believe that civility, respect, kindness and love can and ultimately will overcome venom and hatred.
It can be disheartening to see what the depths to which certain parts of humanity can and will sink. Alternately there are a multitude of examples where humanity’s better nature shines through. Where we focus will affect our outlook, and ultimately our destination.