“Like nearly everyone else, newspaper columnists have had their lives altered by the Internet,” writes the National Post‘s Robert Fulford in a recent column.
Fulford writes about the comment threads that spring up below each of his columns when they are posted online. He says when email became popular in the 90s he began receiving far more (and more interesting) mail from readers than he did in the days of the old pen and ink letter to the editor. And, he adds, the comment function online has brought “more surprises.”
He notes that discussions often veer way off topic and some posts “stray beyond the limits of civilized discourse,” but oftentime, he writes, conversations can also be “remarkably high-toned.”
“Blog responses aren’t at all like traditional letters to the editor. The ‘commenters’ (a popular term now) take an intimate, familiar tone. At times, when reading them, I feel as if I’ve blundered into a gathering of irascible friends. I sense that some commenters, with pseudonyms such as Sassylassie, Nath_BC and Rectificatif, are part of a community, and familiar to one another. They often bicker among themselves, like old married folks.”
“I feel like the man who has been poor and rich and is here to tell us that rich is better. A veteran of the pre-Internet era and a user of the Net for a decade and a half, I’ve formed a firm opinion: Net is way better.”