The problem with online comments

  • Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East

    Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East

  • Online debate: people who comment online usually hide their true identities — but is that always the best decision? (File photo).

    Online debate: people who comment online usually hide their true identities — but is that always the best decision? (File photo).


A few days ago, I bumped into someone who on a daily basis has a lot to say online about politics and what the Government should or should not do.

Initially, I was a bit excited to see them, thinking that they would expound their opinions in a face-to-face conversation.

However, they had very little to say. Well, at least until they got back online and once again had every solution in the book.

I am sure for many of you who debate online that you would have experienced the same thing.

If not yet, sooner or later you will.

On a daily basis, many Bermudians and residents of Bermuda venture into the murky rabbit holes of online, social and political debates on The Royal Gazette online, Facebook or Bernews.

Depending on the topic, hundreds of comments and the subsequent replies and rebuttals are generated.

On sites such as The Royal Gazette and Bernews, persons have the luxury of making up creatively fake names to ply their cybertrade in almost complete anonymity.

Names such as Robert X, James Ripper, WarwickBoy, AllTheWayWoke, Redford and rock lizard are commonplace on many threads pertaining to local politics.

With a wide range of perspectives, these bloggers help to bring forth a wide variety of viewpoints — some helpful, others rhetorical.

Often, far too often, I find myself tempted to jump into the fray and cybertussle with some of them.

Well, especially those who expound right-wing tendencies and ideologies.

It is at the point, just before I hit the “send” button, that I remember that these people hide their names, primarily because they do not want to be publicly known for espousing such mindsets.

More importantly, because they hide their names, no one knows who they really are.

Could they be the lady who fills your coffee at the restaurant?

Could they be the gentleman that is going to interview you for your promotion?

Could they be your neighbour of 50 years? Barring a hacker exposing their real names, we would never know who they really are.

For that precise reason, it makes it difficult to have full and open conversations with anyone who chooses to hide not only their real names, but how they truly think and feel.

Those who blog and debate on Facebook at least have the courage to be upfront about their opinions without hiding their faces.

Interestingly, many of those who do debate on Facebook have ventured to contact each other and meet in person.

Some have, against all odds, actually become lifelong friends.

In closing, for those who do debate online, try something new in 2020.

Send an invitation to meet face to face with someone you debate with on a regular basis. The two of you may actually find that you have a lot in common.

Heck, you may find that you tend to argue less and less with them online.

Now, wouldn’t that be grand?

If only we knew how to reach past the rabbit holes to contact, in person, those people with hidden names.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm

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Published Jan 3, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 2, 2020 at 9:59 pm)

The problem with online comments

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