A Hope for Online Discussion

Who’s Flying the Plane? aims to spark discussion: Matters of environment and sustainability, for example, are among the core values of the podcast. Discussion around these subjects is vital to their progression.

Online debate nowadays tends to be unbridled mayhem – a glance at the comment section of a political YouTube video is enough to make you want to bury your head in the sand. It speaks volumes that you can install a web browser extension that will help you with that task. The aptly named Shut Up will hide the comments on most popular social media platforms.

It’s easy to see how misunderstanding and a lack of context can drive people crazy. A common response to the Black Lives Matter movement was that “all lives matter”. That should go without saying, but to some, Black Lives Matter seemed an ambiguous mission statement; one which led them to incite the most futile, cyclical arguments. The key issue here is that posting on Twitter is almost stream of consciousness – very few people take the time to consider their argument before posting it in a fit of rage. What could be a democratic forum to educate people about important issues descends into unproductive chaos.

Debating societies in educational institutions have mediators for a reason. Courtrooms would be a very different place if the judge was removed and the plaintiff and the defendant just argued their sides of the story until one side gave in. The point is, a large scale debate seems not to be able to move forward without a dispassionate third party to oversee it. And this is is exactly what Change A View is offering.

Kal Turnball was so repelled by the state of things that he made a website where discussions can take place in an orderly and respectful manner. Change A View is a platform that has the potential to change the way we debate online and I truly hope it does. It may be suprising to hear that Change A View started as a page on Reddit, a website with a reputation for the sharing of outlandish opinions and incubating hate groups. This speaks to the strength of Kal’s idea – if it managed to take hold on Reddit, where couldn’t it work? So, next time you find yourself agrivated by an online argument, why not visit Change A View and see if the topic in hand is being discussed?

Words By Alex Wilson – 03/08/19

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