Online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are causing us to become intolerant to the views of others with the problem being highlighted by the Brexit debate.
That’s the view of the Rt Rev Simon Burton-Jones the Bishop of Tonbridge, a role that also takes in Tunbridge Wells.
In his New Year’s message for the Times he has called for more tolerance and understanding in public debate.
Rev Burton-Jones, who was made Bishop at St Paul’s Cathedral in July, was invited by this newspaper to outline his hopes for the New Year.
“We no longer know what to do with opinions we disagree with”
“It would be great if 2019 could see an improvement in the way we debate with one another publicly about what matters,” he said.
“Listening is out of fashion and the tendency to demonise people we disagree with and let the world know online is making for a harsher climate. Societies flourish where there is forgiveness and strangers are shown kindness.”
Rev Burton-Jones, who is the seventh Bishop of Tonbridge, warns that the internet and social media is causing us to be intolerant to the opinion of others, with the debate about Brexit being symptomatic of the problem.
“Slowly, without noticing in our networked world, we are surrounding ourselves with people who think the same way we do. Brexit is only a symptom of this, not a cause. We no longer know what to do with opinions we disagree with.”
The Suffragen Bishop, whose role is to support the Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, believes that while asking for tolerance is a good thing, people need to go further.