We are more than the comments we make
By Corey Hajim
Business curator, TED
It's hard to imagine being nasty to Dylan Marron. He's warm, funny and seems like one of the nicest people you could meet. But being a nice guy doesn't stop internet trolls -- you know, those opinionated and often mean-spirited individuals -- especially in the comments section of his YouTube channel.
After I watched Dylan's talk, I made the mistake of reading some of those comments. It was heartbreaking. I don't think I've ever received or delivered truly hateful messages online, but I'm certainly not above an attempt at one of the "epic shutdowns" Dylan refers to in his TED Talk -- pointed messages directed at a friend-of-a-friend's comment on Facebook or someone's tweet.
It can feel so good to just let them have it and then walk away. But that doesn't change anything. In fact, it's ruining our ability to connect with people, because it's so easy to call out each other's differences rather than focus on where we agree.
Years ago, I began distancing myself from friends who had different political viewpoints. I felt that the way things were headed, I couldn't justify staying close with people I so strongly disagreed with. But after Dylan's talk, I started to rethink those relationships.
I realized that those connections are an important part of the tapestry of life. There will be moments when we're on opposite ends of a disagreement, but that doesn't mean we can't connect at all or that we should stop trying. I started to reach out to some of these old friends again, remembering what we had in common and that having empathy for them isn't the same thing as endorsing their views. I'm glad I did.