Beware the Facebook Comment Section

FlickrSocial media sites provide a platform for more interconnectivity between people but also exposes us to new beliefs and opinions.

Nothing is more infuriating than seeing a comment on Facebook that’s blatantly wrong. It triggers an emotion similar to rage but it burns deep within the soul. Two people locked in a comment debate is like watching a train crash — it’s terrible but you can’t look away.

The comment section is a window into a person’s true self. People reveal the most about themselves in this virtual chat room where real world confrontation is little to none. Emotions, opinions and political stances are all things that come from people you normally wouldn’t converse with.

There’s a lot to learn about people you barely know when you can observe their Facebook activity. Remember your mom’s friend Janice who sent you a friend request last May? She left a skeptical comment on a link you shared about climate change.

This is a platform where people aren’t forced to back up their arguments and there’s no pressure to respond because this isn’t a face-to-face conversation. If someone wants to, they can leave a controversial comment on every post they see and watch the madness grow as people start to dispute.

Although Facebook profiles are often linked to obviously real people, the screens between two users provides a veil of anonymity which is linked to abusive behavior, according to a study by Philip Zombardo, a member of the Association for Psychological Science.

The lack of face-to-face confrontation found online allows people to display their undesirable qualities and controversial opinions.

There are no immediate consequences while staring at a screen in bed, so people often feel they can write whatever they want. The best example of this would be 8chan, which is a social bulletin board with all anonymous users. The site has been linked to the El Paso, Texas shooting — which occurred in August, claiming 22 lives  — with claims that the gunman posted a white supremacist manifesto on the site before the shooting.

Online name-calling and verbal abuse are something a majority of teenagers have experienced, according to a Pew Research Center survey. This includes sharing false rumors, physical threats and sharing explicit images.

Oftentimes, this abuse arises from online trolls — a person whose sole purpose in life is to seek out people to argue with on the internet over trivial issues. These are people who seem to find pleasure in making others miserable and can be found at the top of many Facebook comment battles, often acting as a catalyst. Trolls are a chaotic evil that plague the internet.

Everyone should be cautious when scrolling through comments, especially on posts containing controversial material. Social media sites allow people to expose themselves to a wider scope of opinions and beliefs. This creates more chances of conflict between people. No one is going to argue about gun reform in person, on their way to work. On social media, though, it’s fair game anytime.

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