I spend considerable time on the web; searching for material for this blog and my novels. Something that alarms me is the decline of civility. A typical pattern is that someone will flame the author or previous comments of a web article. (I am surprised that some even know the author's mother.) Then more flaming comments appear. I unsuccessfully performed a web search on this topic, and could not find anything scholarly to reference. Yes, I too, wonder whether there is a correlation with the decline of civility and the development of talk radio and 24 hour news channels.
One of my pleasures is reading the biographies of former U.S. presidents. There have been some like Truman and Nixon that could not tolerate disagreement. Others seemed to enjoy debate and not assume an opposing view was a personal attack. Our culture today is very polarized - the venom spewed in defense of a particular perspective is alarming. In a sense, this is sort of hedonistic - we become the center of the universe and of course, we own the correct perspective in everything. (I discovered some of the expected titillating web hits in a search of hedonism in the news.)
The problem seems to be a Gordian Knot. All of us have attempted to negotiate with someone who was opposed to negotiation. Unless we oppose vitriol, it will overtake us. It does not mean that we should respond in same, but it does not mean that we fold in our opinions or perspective. The world is becoming too crowded for us not to be able to appreciate or at least live with, disagreement.