Monologue on the muted comments

Not with a growl but a whisper. That’s how the commenting function on the San Diego Union Tribune’s website seemed to exit.

A friend sent me a text earlier this week alerting me to the change. I was grateful.

Not because I wanted to get in a few last zingers aimed at someone I did not know personally or who had not expressed a point of view that did not exactly mirror mine; or because I needed to bloviate about an issue in which I was objectively not an expert and had only—at worst—a passing familiarity based on having just learned about the issue in the 1,200 word article I just finished reading or—at best—just enough familiarity to convey expertise to everyone who was not an expert because I had read two articles on the subject from different news outlets that same day; or because I needed to share with the world my wit and intellect in a pithy 200 word rejoinder that would undoubtedly change not just minds but the world.

I have a column for that. And, as we all do, social media.

I was thankful he told me because I did not frequent the comments section of the UT, or any news site, and I would have felt out of the loop when one day years from now someone lamented the absence of entertainment they would have received from reading, for example, the unhinged comments of crackpots raging about liberals destroying American values by embracing Taylor Swift or all conservatives having secret financial ties to the Russian mob.

The UT’s explanation read, in part: “Beginning February 1, 2024 we will no longer be hosting comments on our websites…we have found that very few readers engage with the comments and even fewer actually leave comments.”

It goes on to mention that forums can be difficult to moderate and that occasionally they may become venues where spam abusive and hateful speech are planted.

In other words, it’s become like a lot of other social media.

The end of commenting on a newspaper’s website is not an abridgement of your First Ammendment rights. You can still get your point across and share with your community what you have to say. In the paper.

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