I occasionally skim through comments on internet news sites, almost always to my misfortune. My general reaction, particularly on politically- or religiously-tinged articles, is one of frustration. The words of Isaiah come to mind:
Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Wo unto the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight! Wo unto… [those] who justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! (2 Ne. 15:20-23; these verses quote Isaiah – see Isaiah 5:20-23).
Many online comments are toxic (this is the case for most social media sites). They are not helpful or uplifting. “Who is my neighbor?” the Savior was asked. He responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan – a story about being filled with charity for all. In the community of the internet where neighbors can live as far as Tulsa, Tunisia, or Tehran, instead of reaching out in charity and understanding, too many people comment with bitterness and hate. Online interactions have the great potential to be positive and uplifting but too often they are worthy of Isaiah’s condemnations.
Hope springs eternal for me so I infrequently skim through comments to look for uplifting comments that defend good and right and are full of kindness and charity but most of the time my hopes are swept away by the swollen and swirling streams of comments and dashed on the jagged rocks of disappointment.
However, generosus equus non curat canem latrantem (meaning: “A well-bred horse doesn’t care about a barking dog”). All we can really do is make sure that we do not add to any of the toxicity of commentary.