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Extreme Views on the Internet

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People are less likely to share opposite opinions and ideas because of the Internet, or so say recent studies. It doesn't take much time or effort to search and find sites, online newspapers and magazines, blogs, and forums which support your views, whatever they may be. For example, if you believe that global warming is hoax, then there are more than one million sites for you to browse. If you believe that the US government planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then there are more than seven million sites which support this notion. The possible effects on future society, government, and human relations are immense.

With little or no debate, imbalanced views and extremism are a direct result. Like-minded people engage in one-sided discussions and never hear opposite opinions. In other words, if a group of people discussed the benefits of the Kyoto Protocol, then almost all who participated in the discussion would support the treaty. Few arguments would get raised about any possible negative impact. In addition, a person's confidence grows when there aren't persuasive people to disagree. An overabundance of confidence leads to extreme views - a mob mentality, if you will.

Discussions by large groups of like-minded people have the potential for good in the world, though. The Civil Rights Movement in the US and the movement for more equality among men and women all over the world are two examples. But it doesn't take much effort to think of some negatives, such as terrorism, cults, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. People could band together, and be overconfident and wrong in their views.

Sociologists worry about the harm to society's general welfare. Suspicion of other people whose opinions differ, unjustified rage, and the fragmenting of society are all real concerns. Any adversaries could be viewed as the enemy in a future war of ideals and beliefs.


Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. The Internet is the most important invention of the modern world.
  2. The Internet is the most important invention ever.
  3. The Internet harms society.
  4. The Internet will cause problems for society in the future.
  5. I couldn't live without the Internet.

Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.

  1. If you believe that the US government planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then...
  2. Few arguments would get raised about...
  3. The Civil Rights Movement in the US and the movement for...
  4. But it doesn't take much effort to think of some negatives, such as...
  5. Any adversaries could be viewed as...

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. What do you typically use the Internet for? Please explain.
  2. Do you often visit sites which old the same opinion as you? Do you ever read through other opinions?
  3. What positive events from history can you think of that were the result of extreme views?
  4. Assuming that the sociologists are correct, what can be done to prevent of limit extremism?
  5. Do you agree with the sociologists? Why/not?

Google Search: Type "extremists" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.


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