My inbox is nearly on fire this morning. Two email lists are very active with heated discussions. One centers on a proposed cell phone tower at the local high school and the other discussion is about accessible PDFs. While I have opinions about both issues I’m not going to participate in either discussion because I really don’t think that the folks with one view are really listening to the folks with an opposing view so participating in either discussion would be a waste of time, energy and emotions.
Passionate discussions on email lists and bulletin boards all seem to follow the same pattern. Someone posts a topic — sometimes it might be a little inflammatory, but many times it is simply an innocent question — which is true of both of the cases that are being discussed on the email lists today. Then someone answers the question or statement with one point of view and someone else responds to the person with another point of view. Then the really passionate folks start chiming in and often someone makes fun of someone on the other side and then someone from the other side defends their position using stronger words and before you know it, unless the moderator (or a seasoned list user) steps in and tells the folks to calm down or take it off-list or cease and desist, someone is being referred to as a Nazi. I’ve seen it so many times that it is actually sometimes fun to watch.