When we have a debate in our government or English classes, we are taught to respect each other’s viewpoints and add to the conversation. We build on each other’s ideas, and though we may disagree, we learn more about each other’s stances. However, on Twitter, we have seen the rise of a reactionary culture in which people insult each other rather than try to have a civil discourse.
Hidden behind the anonymity of a Twitter profile, it is easy to say the things that we would never dare say in public. Yet, as novelist C.S. Lewis once famously said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” So, when you go on Twitter and see a tweet talking about a perspective that you do not agree with, rather than insult, ask questions. Try to understand why they think that way and try to explain to them why you think opposite.
However, the responsibility of civility must be undertaken not only by the person commenting but by the person who posted the tweet in the first place. When someone asks you a question that challenges your opinion, rather than retort and accuse them of being ignorant, you should take the time to carefully respond. If you do not have a reasoning behind your opinion, then you should reevaluate your beliefs and try to understand why it is that you think that way.
In such a divided political time, where both the right and left are finding less and less common ground, it is especially important to take the time to restore civility not just in your classes but online. Twitter is an incredible tool, which when used properly, can be a way for us to communicate with people from all different backgrounds and beliefs. But, when we choose to live in a bubble and refuse to listen to those who challenge our views, then that is when the discourse becomes less of a conversation and more of a war of insults.
It is our responsibility, of each and everyone of us, to set the parameters of the discussion: respectful, candid and thoughtful.