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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

Blocking you online does not mean I do not like you in person

I recently blocked a longtime political acquaintance, and someone I consider a friend, on a social media account. He was not the first and likely will not be the last.

The toxicity of social media, particularly in politics, is neither a new revelation nor one that is likely to change soon. To the contrary, it has been hyper-charged by a political landscape dominated by tribalism and outrage politics. Mixed with disassociation caused by limited in-person interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, the online environment has become a place where the worst inside us plays out.

What could be a venue for political debate and discord has become a channel for angst, anger and personal attacks.

Lest anyone believe this is thin-skinned overreaction, I am accustomed to letting insults and disparagement roll off me. Writing columns for five years, I have received plenty of hate-mail. When I ran for office, I became a target for rancid mail pieces that led to even more vitriolic personal encounters. One flyer compared me to mass-murderer Kermit Gosnell.

And I have an active Twitter feed where I take strong positions and often get replies from random people I do not know. Most often they hope to draw me into virtual screaming matches. As a general rule, those are easy to ignore.

It changes when it involves someone you know and respect personally.

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