Yes, the internet has allowed us to create communities across the nation. But it hasn’t given us the magic technique for making it easy for communities to speak to each other. It’s made it easier to build communities — but that doesn’t make each community healthy. Peter Block has a rather dense book on this, “Communities: the Structure of Belonging.” The point he raises is that deep social connections aren’t necessarily comforting. As a descendant of Puritans, I keep thinking how close knit the New England colonies were in the early days, and how prevalent witch hunts became.
I think you were right to be hopeful in the early days of the Internet. It is giving us a wonderful opportunity to learn how to share our world with one another, but it is insufficient. We also have to learn to be kind to each other, to allow our neighbor to have radically different beliefs, and still value their participation in our communities and our democracy.
I am deeply disappointed in my fellow Americans these days. I am sad and angry about their choices. But I don’t hate them. I’m sad to hear that you have started hating them. I see that they are harming many people, some with intent, and some through willful ignorance. But I won’t hate them, because I chose to stay true to my ideals. I won’t give up on them, because that isn’t consistent with my beliefs.
On the other hand, I have no intention of deferring to them, or being quiet when they do something I view as morally wrong. Do you see the difference? Respect for the person, clear firm response to the action. I call this Respect for ALL, Deference for NONE. I’m not very good at it, actually, but it gives me a goal.
The next step, now we have the technology to communicate around the world, is developing the techniques that will allow us to communicate our varied vibrant personal experiences to each other with respect. I think information technology can help us discover and refine these techniques, but it can’t make the decision to practice them. Only we can do that.