Am I ruining democracy?

Let’s start with how awesome that news was. You may have seen or heard about the hit Boston Bruin’s enforcer Shawn Thornton gave to the Pen’s defenseman. You can watch here.

When I saw that hit, I told Twitterverse I thought it was a cheap hit that is unacceptable – even on the ice of a hockey game.

Immediately, a Bostonian argued as if to defend Thornton. I’m all for a bit of debate, so I defended my position. But, before he could respond to that, I cruised this man’s recent tweets.Just moments before, the Bostonian said Orpik had a concussing punch coming to him because Orpik had declined to fight earlier – Orpik needed to “man up.” I consider that offensive because being a man has nothing to do with hitting a man to the point of unconsciousness while he is already down.

So I disengaged.

The Bostonian tweeted at me twice more. I didn’t respond.

I generally don’t engage in debating conversation online – about topics more vital than sports, even. I’ve long felt there’s little likelihood I’ll ever change minds with a tweets or even Facebook comments. I see a variety of political ideology, social issue or economic policy opinions within my networks. A fair percentage of the time, I disagree. But, the times are few and far between that I would counter someone’s position or add much to the arguement. I try to keep my social media accounts professional enough and my content oriented to the audience. (I use my Facebook account to talk to a general-interest audience of friends and family. My Twitter account is directed toward news, media and J-school things.) So, my policy is to not engage.

But, is that the best policy? If the magic of the Internet is to allow Bostonian and me to come to common ground and debate ideas, am I letting down the Internet by choosing not to engage in conversation? If I believe in discourse, am I hindering it with non-participation? If I believe I’m right, am letting him win? By judging his argument not worth debate, am I putting cracks in an egalitarian conversation? Am I ruining democracy?

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