Something I give a lot of thought to, is the rapid changing of society, via the internet. The internet has dramatically altered all social interaction in the general populace. So I wanted to hear people’s opinions on the overall affect on society it can have.
A board like The Straight Dope is dedicated to reasoned debate (more or less) and for the most part it’s much more conducive to reasoned debating if everyone keeps their cool and tries their best to explain things to people. I think your average user realizes this. I’ve started to realize the flame wars are less savage than they used to be, or else I’m just less sensitive to it than I used to be. However, as the boards gentrify, the older crowd tends to become more tolerant as they’ve seen more and more of the same argument from the newbies. I know that I have made an attempt to stop engaging in flame wars completely, as I (clearly) get people to listen to me much better when I am being reasonable. So just from a purely selfish pragmatic point of view, it makes sense for me to be kinder in my arguments, then when that occurs, I start to realize, “Hey I’m learning more too.”
So on to the point. Do you think it’s possible that moderated message boards like this one, that are forums for what was once considered “Ivory Tower” debate, can influence society as a whole, to be more tolerant of alternative view points, by bringing a form of argument to the masses that was generally not thought to be the mainstream. (I do recognize the the SDMB isn’t exactly mainstream)
What are your thoughts on this?