Monday, February 23, 2015

Online comments and censorship

If you've visited a number of popular websites on the internet (YouTube, Reddit, etc.) you know these places are open to comments by any visitor. And truth be told: the internet is simultaneously the best thing and the worst thing in the world. You may find comments that are highly educated, original, or that approach a subject from a new angle, and they may lead you to discover whole new fields of knowledge that you never knew existed and that will dramatically alter your life for the better till the end of your days. But you can also find harassment, trolls, unsolicited shocking content, insults, etc.

But in any case, comments are a way of letting people react to your content. They're a way of offering them the courtesy of being able to respond to you when you talk. They're a way of being open to a fair conversation and letting others notify you of mistakes when you make mistakes. Because you shall make mistakes as everybody does.

If you produce content and you refuse the courtesy of commenting to your audience, then you're not open, you're not fair, and you're doomed to make mistakes that you will repeat and repeat and repeat because you were foolishly thinking so highly of yourself that you never gave people a fair chance to educate you on any little bit of knowledge that eluded you.

I use YouTube a lot for viewing videos but I also do comment and discuss with other viewers and video producers. But there are some groups that are not open to fair exchanges. And here are the groups that I have noticed so far:

  • religious groups or individuals
  • feminists
The reason censorship is generally considered harmful is because it is part of totalitarian politics. It is generally oppressive and aims at preserving the dogma that prevails at the head of the state. It will prevent positive reforms and it will lock society away from truths that could otherwise be obtained through open discussion. Censorship is the opposite of the "open marketplace of ideas".

If you are a viewer, beware of people blocking comments! This should be a warning sign that they might be ideologues unwilling to consider whatever legitimate criticism that is sent their way by people who disagree. If you are a content producer, let people comment! Surely, there will be garbage among the comments but there will also be precious ideas and remarks that you would otherwise have missed. And realizing your mistakes will be hard. Very hard. Some people refuse to admit their mistake even when it's laid in front of their eyes. Being humble and admitting what you've done wrong is not easy but it is necessary if you want to be honest and become a better person. Freedom has a price. So does being a good person. If you never pay the price, it speaks volumes about you.

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