Deep breath....count to 10....
I guess in part it depends on who is "we" and what is meant by "stooping this low." Some people may be more bugged by the substance of a message than its tone. I can find very flat, toneless ways of calling someone an idiot that nevertheless express my contempt for them as people but make me feel justified that I have conducted myself in the most Christian of manners. Also, people tend to get frustrated when they are losing arguments and fall back on personal insults (however well couched). Part of that is a maturity issue and is the cost of doing business on a public venue. If you choose to participate you are, in many ways, giving yourself over to those who may not be as scrupulous in their interpersonal interactions as some others. I see an awful lot of people investing more energy in defending and attacking critical opinions than in actually articulating them.
That said, yes, I don't mean to imply any direct comparison to some past iteration of this board and the present one. For one, although I do pop in from time to time to do self-promotion (announcements of things that I think would be of interests to the friends I retain who hang out here), I don't really troll this board enough to make generalizations of the current tone and demeanor. This particular thread strikes me as having much of the dogmatism that marked this board in the past...the tone may be dialed down a notch but the bulk of the substance of the argument or the discussion still veers into the talk-radio style of taking sides, assuming one is self-evidently right, and expending more energy into constructing a strong rhetorical argument than in actually exploring the subject matter. Still, the subject matter in this thread may be near and dear to a lot of people, so perhaps it isn't typical of a thread on, say, No Strings Attached.
My implication in the link is that the medium is the message. It is the nature of Internet boards and communication (and talk radio) to have an agonistic style, and although it would be nice to think that the Christian content in some places would leaven that, in my experience the reverse is generally true (i.e. even Christians become conformed to the style of the medium and the culturally prominent methods of discourse). But even in the worst of times and places there are people who are able to civilly disagree. I think the energy cost of doing so--of remaining civil, of adopting a listening posture when the bulk of the community does not do the same, of being open to persuasion when the world wants to make every film a shibboleth, of staying patient with people who say "it's your job to convince me but I have no intention of allowing myself to be convinced, only to use your inability to convince me as some sort of evidence that you are wrong"--is out of whack with whatever benefit some personality types might derive from participation in such endeavors. I don't think that the overall nature of the medium has changed much or was different at such and such a time but it seemed to me that there were at least pockets of resistance against the flow of the medium that allowed some tenuous connections to be made...and I miss those.
Edited by kenmorefield, 24 February 2011 - 12:38 PM.