A note about our shared comments section
In recent times I’ve observed some fairly heated comments underneath my posts. I am proud to have a diverse following of people from all walks of life and with a range of views, and I think we all value Substack as a forum for free and robust debate in censorious times.
I enjoy reading and sometimes joining in the back-and-forths under my posts. However, the tenor of some comments recently has led me to share my hopes for this page and my other social media pages, on X and Instagram.
As a rule, I don’t delete comments under my posts. Very rare exceptions have included comments that constituted stalking/harrassment of myself, and extreme graphic language inciting violence.
I generally leave it up to users to argue strong opinions out with each other, occasionally chiming in if I have something to say. Other than that, I leave it to the platforms to moderate comments according to their own guidelines, and users to report comments if they feel it necessary.
With that context, I recently had a subscriber write to me to let me know that she had unsubscribed because she was encountering too much antisemitism in the comments section under my posts.
The note touched on something that has been a source of discomfort for me also in recent months on this platform and on my social media accounts. That is, seeing comments attacking individuals or groups rather than attacking the ideas, or what those individuals or groups represent. I’ve also observed some quite aggressive language, including calls for violence.
Some examples: Denigrating people for their appearance, race or religion, calling for hangings or lifetime imprisonment of all sorts of people for all sorts of things, name-calling and foul language (the latter two mostly on Instagram).
My hope for this Substack and my other social platforms is they are places where ideas can be shared freely in robust discourse. I do not wish to moderate or censor discussion. At the same time, I believe that a flourishing discourse requires respect, and taking care with one’s words.
I hope that this community will continue to speak freely, but also with civility. That we will consider the feelings of others, who may belong to the group being spoken of, or who may 100% disagree with other commenters on a given topic.
I know a lot of my followers are over woke snowflake demands to self-censor in order to preserve their feelings. That’s not what I’m not talking about. I’m talking about the social convention of speaking in such a way that the room doesn’t empty in response (digital or otherwise).
Thank you to all my subscribers and followers who have contributed to discussions under my posts. I have learned so much, either from reading a new idea or defending my own.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments ;)
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