I’m not one to post my personal opinions on Facebook for all to see. Maybe its because I’m afraid of some of the comments I would receive in response, or maybe it’s because I’m afraid of confrontation. Truthfully, I think it’s a little bit of both. I do, however, enjoy reading others’ opinions and forming hypothetical comments inside my head that I imagine would be extremely well-worded. Though no matter how good of an argument I think I have, I never post it.
The other day I stumbled across an article titled, “The Mormonizing of America” from the Huffington Post, and was delighted by the positive light in which it portrayed LDS people — until I reached the comment section. The first comment called Mormons being “master deceptors,” and also called Mitt Romney selfish, a liar and said something about binders full of women. The rest were not much better.
Yet for whatever reason, I continued scrolling through the negative mass of comments, like I was being compelled to search through them. I would read them, get angry, and proceed to imagine a witty comment in response which I would never end up posting. In all of my scrolling, I did not see one good comment about the article. I had hoped people were coming around to Mormons, yet after reading the comment section that seemed like the farthest thing from the truth.
After contemplating this experience, I realized there were probably plenty of people with favorable opinions of the Church reading that same article, but they didn’t post anything. Who wants to post a comment among so many negative opinions, knowing there is a good chance you would get a rude, sarcastic and possibly hurtful response?
I think there are thousands of Internet users with opinions and thoughts that never get posted. Therefore, the same people continue to dominate the Internet and create the illusion that their opinion is with the majority. This intimidates those with differing viewpoints from posting anything.
On my Facebook news feed, I read the same status updates from the same people. Some of them I haven’t talked to since high school, but I know the details of their lives anyways. I know when their baby said something ridiculously adorable, or when they made an awesome dinner, complete with pictures. I also view pins on Pinterest from the same group of about 15 or 20 people, even though I follow more than 200.
When I wrote my first and only blog post, I was surprised to see it had more than 100 page views. I expected there to be many comments, since so many people had seen the post. However, only one person commented, and that was my sister-in-law. There is a mass group that dominates Internet usage, bet there are millions of others who are not as active on the Internet, if at all, but who still possess valuable opinions.
Comments and posts online don’t represent the majority. In reality, the only ones who really read and care to comment on an article, Facebook status or YouTube video, are the ones with passionate opinions.
The only way to change this phenomenon is by becoming active Internet users. Freedom of speech is a privilege many in the world do not have, and we should take advantage of it. I have realized that though I am not inclined to share personal opinions, it is important to do so.
Though I am not advocating to go and write controversial comments for the purpose of irritating people, or blowing up others’ news feeds with mean-spirited posts, we have the right to let our voices be heard. In turn, we can make the Internet a more positive and uplifting place.
On the “Mormonizing of America” article, I later found a few individuals who had taken the time to share their testimonies. They weren’t accusatory, defensive or hateful; they weren’t overbearing or preachy. Though there weren’t always the nicest comments in return, you never truly know who is reading. I’m believe there were many readers, like myself, who were inspired by these testimonies and touched by their positive outlook.
As we become more actively involved with social media and share our beliefs and views, there will be a wide variety of opinions on the Internet and not just comments from the same people. Though the Internet is full of negative comments, by becoming active internet users, we can make the Internet a more positive place. By simply choosing to make positive comments or posts online, we defend our own faith, opinions and may influence the lives of others who are not seen but are very much present.