Everywhere you look there's sad, frustrating, or angering news. Especially with the current US election—the political divide is growing deeper and more vitriolic than I've ever known it to be.
All of this is showing up online in hateful, damaging content and conversations. Today's comment sections underneath divisive content are lewd, spiteful, and most importantly, rarely constructive.
And if you're anything like me, you're getting caught up in it too. Not necessarily as a vocal participant, but as a passive consumer of these Twitter conversations and comment wars. Spending any sort of time in destructive comment sections is killing our precious brain cells.
What is it doing to us?
Whether or not comments are specifically directed at us, there are still heavy repercussions to hanging out in the comment section for too long.
I'm talking about Instagram posts, tweets, opinion-based blog posts and wherever else internet trolls like to hang out. Content doesn't even have to be intentionally inflammatory to get cruel and uninformed responses.
In my experience, comments often stick around in my head for much longer than the main content itself. If I'm having a bad day, aggravated comments or replies make it worse.
If I'm sad or confused about a particular topic, the comments rarely clarify facts or opinions. Scouring these sections of websites has never added one shred of understanding, and I end up feeling more twisted and bitter than I did before scrolling through.
Do you feel that too?
Curating what we consume
Living in an online world means that we can consume almost anything we can imagine. The beauty of that is that we can find our tribes and get involved with groups that speak most closely to our hearts.
It also means that we will run into people who disagree, sometimes violently and without sound reason, with these tribes.
I've noticed a strong trend towards attempting to educate some of the most aggressively ignorant commenters, but that's risky territory. Many trolls are begging for someone to try to "educate" them so that they can just spit more hatred.
So if you're trying to limit your exposure to unnecessary aggravation, here's the deal. Try to stay out of comment sections on websites that aren't your own, unless there's someone who seems reasonable to chat with. Don't run away from healthy discussions, but do hit the road as soon as someone starts getting trollish.
I've just installed Shut Up on my browser so that I can avoid accidentally reading disgusting comments. I'm trying my best to keep away from reading replies to tweets or Instagram posts, unless I know that there will be a constructive discussion about the post.
And most of all, I'm continuing to educate myself about key social and political issues so that if I find myself in a real life discussion about it, I can hold my own without hiding behind a keyboard.
What's your approach to online comments?