June 23, 2014
How to, and how not to, express an opinion on the internet
But there is a right way, and a wrong way, to express an opinion on the internet, just like there is a right way, and a wrong way, to express it *in real life* (as if the internet wasn't real life!). And it really just has to do with the very real human way that we want our voices to be heard, we want to share what we know. OK, I'll start with the wrong way, just to get it out of the way.
The wrong way to express an opinion is to make a nasty comment. I don't need to give you an example, most of the comments on YouTube are that way. Yeah, I know that most people on the internet express themselves this way, but instead of creating a convincing argument for their point of view, they are simply creating a convincing argument that they are idiots.
So, here is what you should do: Write a blog. I like to find things that, to my amazement, people actually believe and write about *common misconceptions*. I used this technique a lot when I started teaching. It goes like this: instead of making people feel stupid about their lack of knowledge about, for example, vectors, just say something like *many people believe...* and then go on to explain why it isn't true. This is a wonderful feeling. Instead of making people feel defensive, you make then think *wow, I didn't know that, and apparently most other people don't, either*.
By the way, I delete nasty comments right away from my posts. I just assume that that person is having a bad day, and said something that they would later regret. If they have a different point of view from mine, I hope that they will take the time to write something. I am always open to learning something new!
Posted by Brad Hall