By Adam Floyd
Editor | ValdostaToday.com
Perhaps I shouldn’t be shocked at the level of discourse an online post about a presidential candidate elicits, but I was consistently and thoroughly flabbergasted by my neighbors and friends who took it upon themselves to berate, insult and vaguely threaten each other Wednesday.
What caused such a ruckus?
A very short article announcing the official opening of a Donald Trump campaign headquarters in Valdosta.
Presidential campaign headquarters pop-up in communities every election year. It’s a common thing. But to read comments posted on Facebook and ValdostaToday.com, it would seem the Donald himself was coming to town to either completely lay waste to the nation or make it great again. I’m not sure which one, but posters were adamant it was either going to be one or the other.
Whether the posters supported Trump or not, it seemed almost all fell victim to perhaps his favorite linguistic crutch: hyperbole.
That’s nothing new.
In 2008, Barack Obama was hailed as a savior by supporters. Others thought he was the literal AntiChrist (and some still do). But that kind of exaggeration serves no one. It inflates expectations and overstates consequences when the truth is almost always something in the middle.
Combing through readers’ responses to the Trump HQ in Valdosta was depressing. It was all emotion and no substance, and more than once we had to remove comments from our site for vulgar language (The First Amendment guarantees your right to free speech but not the right to use our site to exercise it).
Exaggeration and name calling accomplish nothing, and our democracy deserves better.
Instead of calling Trump a chump, maybe bring up your concerns about his proposal to position American military in the South China Sea as a means to negotiate trade deals with China. It’s a show of force, but is that the best way to negotiate with China?
Instead of calling Bernie Sanders a hippie communist, maybe talk about how the progressive ideas his followers are latching on to are not likely to ever fly in the U.S. Congress. People may like his ideas, but will he ever be able to actually implement them?
There are ideas and issues to be discussed that need more than name-calling and four-letter-words.
Valdosta, we need to do our homework, we need to remember how to use our manners and we need to discuss issues like adults in real life and online.