Incivility comes in different forms. It is seen everywhere, such as places in politics, in public, or online. This poses a question of how important incivility is and how it affects the people who encounter incivility. Online incivility specifically brings up different perspectives if online incivility should be tamed or be left alone. Cornell Clayton, discusses in his article “Understand the ‘Civility Crisis” that there are five reasons why there is online incivility.
They include the public contributing to social media, topics being popular and profitable, it depends on time and place, there are groups that are being excluded, and political ssues; however, Clayton takes the position that online incivility is not an issue and should be left alone because incivility is a part of democracy. Four additional authors also address their position on online incivility. Jason Wilson, author of “Beware Attempts to Suppress Conflict on the Internet” agrees with Clayton’s position of online incivility claims that incivility is a necessary part in democracy while having anonymity expands democratic participation.
In “VWho Are These Haters that Poison the Well of Our Discourse” by Andrew Stafford, he disagrees with Clayton and argues that online incivility is a problem that eople need to take action by stopping anonymity, being more strict on personal abuse, and needing to focus more on comments that can provide a discussion. Julie Zhuo explains in her article “Where Anonymity Breeds Contempt” her counterposition against Clayton’s position while she expands Stafford’s position that online incivility is an issue and anonymity should stop. Although Stafford and Zhuo disagree with Clayton, Danah Boyd does not directly support Clayton’s position.
Instead she supports Wilson’s argument that anonymity needs to stay because using real names leads to other people abusing he power of knowing another person’s identity. This paper will synthesize how Wilson, Stafford, Zhuo, and Boys connects with Clayton’s contributing factors of online incivility and how the remaining four authors, excluding Clayton, connects with each other. In Wilson’s article, his argument agrees with one of Clayton’s contributing factors of the rise in incivility that supporting groups that are excluded in order to enlarge democracy.
Clayton mentions how minority groups were empowered in the beginning of the twentieth century, how “women suffragettes” “were accused of offending the manners of civilized society” (Clayton, para. ). By providing a historical anecdote, this presents how women at the time were the excluded group, but was able to empower all other women because the women suffragettes who spoke out caused incivility. And because the women caused incivility, it was able to broaden democracy that eventually allowed women to vote.
Wilson connects to Clayton’s claim when he reveals that Arthur Schopenhauer, an author, “demanded an end to anonymity in his work” (para. 10). Wilson then uses prolepsis and states that the reason why people want no anonymity is due to them not having to face criticism (para. 11). With anonymity removed, here would be no one to voice out what they think because of the fear that they will be in danger. With people no longer voicing their opinions, this will hinder democracy because less discussions will exist because less criticisms are being made.
Since Wilson is against banning anonymity, it supports Clayton’s contributing factor because anonymity is what gives people power who are afraid to voice out their opinions and allows them to be a part of a larger discussion. When they are able to participate, democracy is able to broaden. Wilson’s argument focuses on keeping anonymity, which extends Boyd because she elieves that taking away anonymity gives power to the groups who abuse real names. Wilson says that people want to ban anonymity because they want to “avoid criticism” (para. 11).
But it is this criticism that allows the public to see what needs to be seen in a “broader perspective” and reveal which empirical questions can be asked (para. 29). Anonymity is able to breed larger discussions and lets people see things from a different perspective. This is why incivility is fundamental to let democracy grow and let the groups that do not have a voice to have a chance to be heard since the public are now seeing hings from the excluded groups’ perspectives. This idea continues to extend Boyd when she says that no anonymity is an “abuse of power”.
She finds real names as an abuse of power it makes people feel unsafe (para. 1). She includes specific cases of people who experienced stalki privacy because of their real name was revealed online (para. 2). harassment, or invasion of The individuals’ names revealed online feels unsafe about posting their opinions online because the fear of those who know her real name will use their own identity against them. This leads to people feeling more reluctant about sharing their pinions that could be a part of broadening democracy or a creation of a new discussion.
Although Wilson agrees with Clayton, Stafford provides an opposing side towards Clayton that links to Clayton’s next contributing factor that incivility is “popular and profitable” (para. 4). Clayton says that the reason why “political talk shows” and “rude” talking is popular amongst the people is because that is what attracts people. Since that attracts most people, the ones who are talking rude or “uncivil political behavior” are able to make money (Clayton, para. 4). This “uncivil political behavior” attracts attention to make a rofit while making a broader audience more aware of issues in their country helps to expand democracy.
Stafford questions if “The Drum” and “The Punch” generate popularity from the “talent of their writers and guests” or from the “extent of the frenzy they generate” (para. 15). From Stafford’s stance, he agrees with Clayton that controversies tend to attract people and leads people making these controversies profitable. However, this question if incivility of the people creating these controversies help democracy. Stafford continues that now the people are more focused on extraneous, miniscule problems rather than the actual problem.
This concludes Stafford’s point that incivility is incapable of broadening democracy because people are not focusing on the main problem and cannot open up a discussion worth expanding on. Stafford’s position opposes Wilson’s views because he complicates Wilson’s argues that incivility is fundamental to democracy while Stafford argues that incivility is what is hurting the democracy. Wilson states that “conflict is a fundamental part of democracy, and not something” that the people “accuse” it as a problem with democracy (para. 5).
But Stafford disagrees that incivility is the reason why “nation’s political and personal matters” have roblems; therefore, this makes it valid for Stafford to blame online incivility. Zhuo argues that keeping anonymity online is what leads to rude online behavior such as “trollish behavior” (para. 16). Trolling relates to another one of Clayton’s factors is the public contributing to social media leads to online incivility. Although Zhuo relates to Clayton on this factor, her position falls against Clayton’s position.
Clayton asserts that social media such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter affects the way how Americans view things, which changes the “norms of discourse” (para. 8). This implies that social media causes the ncrease in online incivility. The increase in incivility allows Americans to understand why one may feel “anger and bitterness” (para. 8). Despite incivility as a way to open up different perspectives for Americans, Zhuo highlights that incivility online does not allow different views be presented to to other people because of online trolling.
Trolling allows people to hide behind a screen to commit foul behavior without getting consequences because they are anonymous. She presents a case of a former model Liskula Cohen that was able to get a New York judge to reveal the anonymous blogger who “she felt ad defamed her, and she has now filed a suit against the blogger” (para. 8). From Zhuo’s example, the former model attacked by an anonymous blogger does not support how the model can view different perspectives nor does it allow her to understand why a person may feel “anger and bitterness towards her (Clayton. para. 8).
This contradicts Clayton’s argument since he asserts the opposing side. From Zhuo’s perspective, online incivility such as trolling will not help democracy because it hurts people. As Zhuo disagrees with Clayton, her position qualifies Stafford instead. Both authors agree that anonymity should stop. Stafford argues that anonymity is what causes online bullying that pushes people out of the larger conversation. This means the people who are trolling online make statements against other people, but because the other commentators are afraid, they either follow what the trolling individuals say or leave the conversation (para. 1).
Zhuo expands Stafford’s claim when she says that anonymity makes people feel unsafe such as Carla Franklin, a former model, receiving derogatory comments on her YouTube channel. Because Zhuo includes this example, this supports that Stafford’s position is right. Unlike the other authors that address heir position of being for or against online incivility, Boyd does not state her position. Instead, she makes her argument that having to use real name policies should be stopped.
This relates to Clayton’s claim that depending on the context of society, that determines the level of incivility. Clayton address that incivility allows individuals to move past questions of policy to question of what is freedom, political identity, or “what it means to be an ‘American” (para. 7). Incivility changes depending on the demands for society at that time. Clayton argues that due to the anonymity, people’s demands change. Changing in people’s ants equates their changing perspective on issues, which means that democracy is broadening.
To connect with this idea, Boyd when she uses an example about a male, black student applying for an Ivy league college. In his application, the black student writes that he “wanted to leave his gang-ridden community” but, when the admissions officers found his MySpace, they questioned why would this student lie to them when they can find out the truth online (Boyd, para. 11). In this specific case, it counters what Clayton says how incivility does not allow democracy to fully grow if this young, black man was judged based off of his Myspace.
The student’s Myspace account exemplifies online incivility because of the implication that his Myspace contains gang related details. If Boyd agrees with Clayton then her example would have the admissions officers use his Myspace as context to see what this student goes through. Instead, the admission officers use the context differently by assuming the student lied to them when he could be telling the truth. From this example, Boyd disagrees with Clayton because incivility hurts people. Even though Boyd does not specify her position, her article challenges Zhuo regarding anonymity.
Boyd challenges Zhuo because she argues that there should still be anonymity while Zhuo disagrees that anonymity should be stopped. Both authors find their own position of online incivility is an invasion of privacy. Zhuo argues that anonymity invades people’s privacy through trolling. She includes a case of Nicole Catsouras who died in a car accident, then anonymous trolls “set up fake tribute pages” and even sent pictures to her parents with the subject titled “Hey, Daddy, I’m still alive” (para 5). The online trolls not only invades the girl’s privacy, but also her parents as well.
Boyd challenges when she adds a woman’s experience of using real names resulted in her coworkers invading her privacy or people track her from being online (para. 2). Because the woman had her named revealed online, Boyd argues that real names put her safety in danger, which counters Zhuo’s argument. After synthesising the five articles, the most significant problem in online incivility is that anonymity is what causes online incivility to be out of control but incivility is still needed for democracy. Online incivility is too large of a problem to get rid of but it also need in order for democracy to evolve.
After reading Clayton’s article, if it was not for the women who stood up for their suffrage rights and kept quiet about this issue, there would not have been changes in the future to allow women to vote. Incivility is a way for smaller groups to finally be heard and democracy is broaden by changing. Although incivility is able to help democracy and make a change, online incivility regarding people “trolling” does not help democracy because it does not contribute how democracy can improve, therefore; online incivility should be regulated.