Was politics always this angry? It feels like political discourse is increasingly tribal and aggressive, with people refusing to listen to those with conflicting viewpoints and beliefs. Is the internet to blame by shutting us away in bubbles of like-minded friends? In the past, were we more exposed to different perspectives? Were we more polite in our interactions with others when we weren’t anonymous behind a screen? Or has it always been this way?

Debating Europe recently attended Europe on Stage – a talent-show-meets-viral-video mashup. YouTubers (including Creators for Change, an initiative supporting YouTube creators whose work focuses on social issues) came together at Brussels’ BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, and we interviewed some of them on this topic. What would they say?

Curious to know more about Creators for Change? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Blas who thinks the internet has definitely made us more biased and less tolerant. Is he right?

To get a response, we spoke to Swann Périssé, a French YouTuber and Comedian who uses her channel to promote gender equality. What would she say?

Next up, we had a comment from Christopher who wonders what’s the best way to stop internet hate. What would Swann Périssé say?

Finally, we had a comment from Paul who points out that reviewing hateful comments takes a long time (this was in the context of a debate about whether social media platforms should be fined for not taking down hate speech on their platforms). So, how should creators deal with hateful comments? Should they read every comment?

To get a response, we spoke to Tiemo Wölken, a German social democratic Member of the European Parliament (and also a successful YouTuber). As a politician, he no doubt is on the receiving end of negative comments online. Plenty of this will be completely legitimate criticism and should be encouraged as part of the democratic process, but how does he judge which comments have crossed the line? How does he personally deal with hateful comments? And does he read every comment he receives?

Has the internet made us less tolerant? What’s the best way to stop internet hate? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) – dolgachov
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  1. Diaconu George Razvan

    the internet gives voice to everyone , including people who do not have an educated opinion , people who just look for a release valve for their frustration , people who are being manipulated , people paid to have an opinion ( trolls ) , people who enjoy being trolls , and even programmed bots in the future ( or even now).

  2. Craig Willy

    The Internet has broadened the scope of public debate, by giving a voice to those who had previously been marginalized by media-political elites. The gains for political pluralism have been enormous!

    • Αναγέννηση

      Exactly. The internet is a Billion dollar infrastructure platform freely available, changing the world in the process !!!!

  3. Tarquin Farquhar

    Yes.

    So too has the EU with its lack of democracy and its unaccountability!

  4. Michael Šimková

    Absolutely not. People are more tolerant now in general, and I think only someone who didn’t remember what things were like 20 or 30 years ago could argue otherwise. It has given extremists a loudspeaker, but many attitudes we now see as extreme were also considered normal 30 years ago. Quackery and mass psychosis are also not unique to this era.

    The problems of the Internet are really problems of the users: humans.

  5. Francis Vermeulen

    The Internet has made us less IGNORANT and do more and more people start questioning the ‘authority’ of those in power…rightfully!

    • Peter Sutton

      The Internet has helped boost the Dunning-Kruger effect… 😉

  6. Daniel Methwell

    Less tolerant? At the risk of people shouting “Godwin”, I didn’t see much tolerance in the ‘thirties.

  7. Andrew Ahmed Raslan

    “Was politics always this angry”

    You do realise that the last century had two World Wars and a Cold one over whether communism or capitalism was better, right?

    • Arthur Gustin

      So own is it going with May trying to scapegoat Putin on the incoming shitshow ?

      Your banks are already leaving the sinking ship so should you !

    • Karolina

      Ah, the man that lives and breathes propaganda has come here to call mainstream commentators defending the current state of affairs “trolls”…

      And for accuracy’s sake, here is a definition of troll from the on-line Oxford dictionary:

      “A person who makes a deliberately offensive or provocative online post.”

      https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/troll

      Does this describe your posts here well enough (incl. the ones about Russia invading Bulgaria etc)?

    • John Osman

      Just because someone has an opinion that differs from yours Ivan that doesn’t make them a troll.

    • Peter Sutton

      Ivan is demonstrating the Dunning-Kruger effect…

    • Ivan Burrows

      Peter Sutton Good morning, are you my personnel troll or is it just your hobby ?

    • Ivan Burrows

      John Osman Just like you they didn’t express an opinion, only insults and off topic rants which is the very definition of a ‘troll’.

  8. Konrad Kowalski

    Internet is very little tolerant in Europe?
    Everything depends on the place and sides. I see an unbelievable reality:
    1. Adversaries, curses, insults and personal attacks are allowed
    2. It is not allowed to straighten errors, falsify facts and falsify history on nationalist sides such as:
    – Stand for Europe
    – My country? europe

    I see a special relationship that points 1 and 2 connect to each other on the same websites.

    P.S. Special censorship is visible on German websites. The idea is that everyone has the same clapping and at the same time are offensive comments and extreme nationalism (falsification of history and facts for their own purposes)

    • Atte Houtsma

      europe isnt my country, the Netherlans is.

    • Karolina

      Atte, you are entitled to have your own identity. However, so are other people and they feel that they have a lot in common with others in other European countries. They feel that they have a connection to them and they would like to keep this official through the European Union. They want to work and converge more with each other.

    • Konrad Kowalski

      Atte Houtsma ALDE GROUP also began to censor comments and removes them (comments are uncomfortable, but do not break the rules). ALDE does not block users, yet

  9. Arthur Gustin

    Nope, it’s just allowed us to avoid the filtered classic medias which aren’t listening to a decent part of the population.

  10. Atte Houtsma

    no the polcies of the traditional parties, who are not listening to the angry white man.

    • Karolina

      An angry person of whatever colour is not thinking, Atte, so, I am delighted that they are not listening to them.

  11. Adam Morgan

    Intolerance, bigotry, refusal to accept difference, the many different ism’s, homophobia, etc. have always been there, that hasn’t changed. What has changed is that before these people couldn’t so easily group together due to geographic locations and distances. Now, with the internet, distance and geographic location is meaningless and as a result people that once couldn’t group together now can and as a result it seems intolerance, et el. has massively increased.

    Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely an increase in hostilities of late, much like in the 30s, thanks to propaganda but the internet has helped to nurture these hostilities.

    On the flip side the internet has also been a platform fir those opposed to the hostilities. So it’s really swings and round-a-bouts.

  12. Art Lewis

    Left and right are just tools the established powers use to create division in order to make people go out and vote for, and therefore condone and endorse their system which i feel, appears to be in control of the parties of the left and right. Only when people stop allowing themselves to be controlled and divided will we stand strong against the establishment itself. Together we are the power. Divided they win every time. Their game, their rules.

  13. Franck Legon

    Tolerance is acceptance of someone else can do something you don’t think is good or agree with, so what you tolerate, you only tolerate and nothing more. Tolerance is not a value in itself, it depends on what you tolerate, and some things shouldn’t be according to me, like teaching sexism, cheering violence, children indoctrination, flat earth and creationism teaching, magical allmighty alien in the sky, obedience in fear of hell punishment, false history, all for greed is the natural way, slavery, choosen people stories, man as the landlord of creation, money downfalling and autoregulative free market, aso.

  14. Julia Todd

    Brexit has made us less tolerant – at least those who were tolerant beforehand. Internet has revealed the previously less exposed underbelly of our society

  15. Julia Todd

    Brexit has made us less tolerant – at least those who were tolerant beforehand. Internet has revealed the previously less exposed underbelly of our society

  16. Mick Jones

    Mobile phone phenomenon! Too many people have gotten far too busy to even consider an alternative view. Walking with coffee – people who are far too important to relax for 10 minutes. IMO? Sit with your coffee – get back to your laptops. Switch the phone off for an hour!

    • Peter Sutton

      Or helps you find confirmation bias…

  17. Duncan Woodward

    No … However we are still very much learning how to properly utilise this most fantastic medium. Nothing happens overnight … give it a few decades maybe longer …. but for sure like any major human development … it takes time to get it right.

  18. John Rogers

    The MSM still haven’t got used to the idea that people outside a very narrow range of opinions now have a voice. It is now possible to put forward ideas that are unacceptable to the centre-right of Major and Blair. Some of these ideas are objectionable but they are ideas commonly held and must be argued against.

    The sight of Remainers mounting a pathetic campaign, mainly on the basis that Brexiters were less couth than they were, should be a lesson to us all.

    • John Rogers

      I don’t see Brexiters calling Remainers super-couth…

    • Michael Brigg

      John Rogers The people representing the stay in the eu brigade were before the referendum very uncouth I don’t see how anybody can deny that. What ever side you were on you cant escape that fact. The people representing the leave side were compered to them polite. I’m trying to see this from a neutral stance.

  19. Nick Chapman

    Tolerance or intolerance? Well I think most people are easy going I have a wide wide friend base walks of life colour creed etc. None of us mind most things just having our home completely taken over or changed against our will

  20. GSK

    Internet made us share ideas. Depending on character ideas can be expressed in different forms and feelings. My idea I wish to share with you is that one day many of our great leaders, and journalists in EU. Will be awarded with the honorary title Hero of Socialist Labour (Russian: Геро́й Социалисти́ческого Труда́), for exceptional achievements in national economy and culture of EU. Those heroes paved the path from socialism to communism in EU. With out them communism in Europe would be mission impossible.

  21. Karolina

    It has definitely made Muslims less tolerant. There are a number of Muslim platforms on the internet promoting divisive and radical material. And the internet is allowing them to broadcast it internationally.

  22. Nancy Whyte

    Yep….definitely. We have become an intolerant whining bunch of “never happy with anythings” At least those are the ones who mostly post on FB.

  23. Donnie MacLean

    Less tolerate of lying cheating governments and their politicians when they’re exposed, sure !

  24. Jonathon Laraune

    The internet has made it a safe place for people to smack talk complete strangers they would never have the balls to face in real life.

  25. Michael Burnhill

    We have minority rule with remainers getting their way . We have every right to be angry. We’ve seen democracy overturned in other EU countries with a second vote when politicians didn’t get the answer they wanted but i never thought we would see that in Britain. Democracy is dead!

    • John Mclaughlan

      Remainders haven’t got their way. We’re still leaving the EU.

    • Michael Burnhill

      Were still paying into the EU and we are bound by their rules for eight years which is certainly not out! It remains to be seen if we can make trade deals after 2019 which was one of the main reasons for leaving .

  26. William Banaeun

    recently i decided to refrain from political discussions since they all seem to go the same: a leftist claim regarding their narrative, rightwingers commenting that this isnt exactly how the world works, radical lefty comes in to tell you that you deserve to die for such an act of missogeny or whatever you allegedly did.

  27. Ronny Wouters

    Tolerance is a word used by the left to bypass all discussions and press their agenda, while the left is totally regressing worldwide, they can’t get enough of their non-working ideoligy. Tolerance only works when the other accepts democratic kapitalism, seperation of church and state, and last but not least, freedom of speech. And frankly, i tolerate no less.

    • Willem Karel

      why are you reguritating this garbadge.. you have no proof what so ever that this is even remotly true… you putin troll..

  28. Bart Groen

    Nah, identity politics has. And they use the internet (and mainstream media) to spread

  29. Willem Karel

    more idiots can have say and think there are no consequences what ever they say… post their names and addresses under their commentaries in the future…and things would change in an instance..

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