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Dharma Connect: Right Speech and Reader Comments

Right or Wise Speech is one of the factors on the Buddha's Eightfold Path, and it includes a warning against harsh speech*. A new study shows the effect of harsh speech in reader comments.

The study's authors wrote in The New York Times:

Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself.

In the civil group, those who initially did or did not support the technology — whom we identified with preliminary survey questions — continued to feel the same way after reading the comments. Those exposed to rude comments, however, ended up with a much more polarized understanding of the risks connected with the technology.

Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.

While it’s hard to quantify the distortional effects of such online nastiness, it’s bound to be quite substantial.

*Bikkhu Bodhi defines harsh speech as:

Harsh speech is speech uttered in anger, intended to cause the hearer pain. Such speech can assume different forms, of which we might mention three. One is abusive speech: scolding, reviling, or reproving another angrily with bitter words. A second is insult: hurting another by ascribing to him some offensive quality which detracts from his dignity. A third is sarcasm: speaking to someone in a way which ostensibly lauds him, but with such a tone or twist of phrasing that the ironic intent becomes clear and causes pain.

The main root of harsh speech is aversion, assuming the form of anger. Since the defilement in this case tends to work impulsively, without deliberation, the transgression is less serious than slander and the kammic consequence generally less severe. Still, harsh speech is an unwholesome action with disagreeable results for oneself and others, both now and in the future, so it has to be restrained. The ideal antidote is patience — learning to tolerate blame and criticism from others, to sympathize with their shortcomings, to respect differences in viewpoint, to endure abuse without feeling compelled to retaliate.

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Good work done

This was really an

This was really an interesting one and I like to say that keep posting and entertaining us.

I really appreciate your

I really appreciate your insight on patience.. Nowadays it seems that Speech plants seeds for immediate responding. Do you think technological upgrade is reforming the brain toward a complex consciousness of scrambling  extreme emotions or reactions?

I often wonder how interactive interactions can mix a sense of interest ---utilizing the basics in right action&speech while simultaneously embracing (&even at times celebrating) a sense of aversion.

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