by Ryan Rafaty for In the Long Run
A recent article in POLITICO considers the commonplace complaints about low-quality political discourse on Twitter and social media—the “trolls, flame wars and the lack of nuance inherent in 140-character statements”—and arrives at a possible culprit: it’s us. We’re the problem. “We say that we want more civil, thoughtful dialogue. But do we really?”
The author, Emily Parker, is a former chief strategy officer at Parlio, an online platform whose chief purpose is to host “civil, thoughtful discussions” as an alternative to the spitfire and twaddle of anonymous hate speech and truncated conversation. Parlio succeeded in building a small community of engaged readers, but in the process Parker grew disenchanted and took home a few cynical lessons: “we’re addicted to the promise of going viral”; “thoughtful engagement takes too much time”; “civility can be boring”.