The Apache Pow Wow

The Problem with Comment Sections

Margaret Lin, Staff Writer

When watching Youtube or scrolling through social media, many of us have probably read the comments section just out of curiosity. Navigating the sea of Youtube and social media comments these days is comparable to swimming through shark-infested waters. No matter the content, there always seem to be people with starkly polarized opinions. While most viewers keep their beliefs to themselves, some are more vocal about their opinions, including their differing thoughts.

This is especially evident in videos and social media posts regarding politics, or more specifically, President Trump. Reactions and stances regarding the president never seem to be neutral on the love-hate spectrum, and comment-section arguments over his many controversial actions seem to be particularly toxic. The comments section serves as a battleground for Trump supporters and anti-Trumpers intent on imposing what they believe to be “right” on others. No opinion goes unchallenged, and each is open to attack.

While there are civil debates (a rarity if found), a good portion of the comments section is filled with people attacking each other over contrasting opinions, as if disproving another’s opinion somehow proves their own. Defamatory flame wars were widespread during the 2016 election over who was better suited to be president. One could not scroll through a Youtube comment section without seeing attacks about “Crooked Hillary Clinton’s” email controversy or references to President Trump’s misogynistic or racially discriminating comments and actions.

One similarity between many comment section arguments, no matter the topic at hand, is unwillingness to listen to others. These comment section wars can’t even be called ‘arguments’, which require some degree of logic and reasoning; it’s more pelting opponents with attacks and hoping to come out victorious. As tempers rise, arguments become less and less coherent until it seems as if two people are trying to outshout each other, rather than prove a point.

Perhaps this reluctance to consider other points of view and the need to get in the last word stem from people’s unwillingness to be wrong. However, in the case of opinions, they’re often two sides of the same coin, two ways to see the water in the glass. One can’t simply force others to believe in what one believes, especially if they have equally strong feelings about their own opinions. No matter how much one believes in an opinion, in the end, it won’t become truth. Just as everyone is different, so are their opinions. To call a disagreeing opinion “wrong” is childish behavior, and to attack it on such flimsy grounds is even worse.

To solve the problem of comment section flame wars, people must take a step back and listen to each other. Instead of trying to make others understand, try to understand them. To understand doesn’t mean accepting another’s point of view, as many might believe; it’s simply acknowledging the reasons why others hold dissenting opinions. Perhaps, if people were a bit more understanding and open to different perspectives, the comments sectionand the worldwould be a much less toxic environment.

Photo Courtesy of I.YTIMG.COM

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The Problem with Comment Sections