SANEDOME jotdown


Internet is debasing our public discourse


“Speaking my mind.” What internet users seem to overlook is that the content of public discourse has not until now comprised the first-thought responses of contributors but (usually) something more considered, measured and refined.

 この辺だけ見るとまあそうですねという感じ。そうなのだが…でも別にそれネットに限った事じゃないし。パソコン通信がある家が珍しくて、Windows 95でやっと容易にネットにアクセスできるようになった程度の時期でも、普通に学校でそういう本音至上主義トークに花を咲かす男子に囲まれておりましたし。アメリカなんかでももっと前からそんな感じなんじゃないかと思う。


 Recently, there has been a soft initiative within this newspaper to persuade columnists to engage with posters who contribute to threads at the end of articles published on our web edition.


I am resisting, not because I am fearful of absorbing abuse (I am prepared to go on air with George Hook, after all) but because I believe these platforms are about something quite different from our conventional understandings of public debate.

Most internet comment traffic comes into being not on the basis of the instant issue but as a means for contributors to announce themselves to the world.


And, since these announcements must take place in a highly competitive environment, there occurs an inevitable escalation in the abusiveness and venom, which contributes nothing to the discussion except heat and hatred.

Unfortunately, any attempt to enable society to focus on these questions is itself subject to the action of the problematic phenomenon, being instantly drowned in waves of abuse and derision.